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PREVIEW #63: Steelheads vs. Thunder

Friday, March 25th
PREVIEW #63: Steelheads vs. Thunder

IDAHO STEELHEADS (32-27-3) VS. WICHITA THUNDER (24-29-8)

FRIDAY, MAR. 25, 2022 | 7:10 P.M. MTIDAHO CENTRAL ARENA | BOISE, IDTICKETS: SOLD OUTTV: SPARKLIGHT CH. 72RADIO: 95.3FM/1350AM KTIK | STREAM: FLOHOCKEY

Tonight's Game: The Steelheads continue lone three-game home weekend against the Wichita Thunder from Idaho Central Arena.

Head-To-Head: The Steelheads broke a mini three-game skid against the Thunder with their win on Wednesday and have an opportunity to take the home portion of the season series with a win tonight or tomorrow. However, a win by the Thunder on either night will give them the season series outright, keeping the Steelheads to a 2-2-1 record in five of seven games this season. The Thunder took three of four games in Wichita, and the two sides have seen overtime twice with identical 5-4 scores favoring each team once. The Steelheads have points in seven of nine games since the 2019-20 season started, and they own a 10-5-6 record all-time against the Thunder and are 5-2-1 in Boise.

Last Game: Another consistent offensive outburst led the Steelheads to a 7-4 win over the Thunder on Wednesday night from Idaho Central Arena. The Thunder netted two goals in the first two minutes to lurch ahead quickly, but a key timeout called by the Steelheads brought them in before taking over the game. Steelheads forward A.J. White (3:42 1st) led the way back with a put-back tally within two minutes of the opening strikes to cut the lead in half, 2-1. A pair of multi-goal scorers notched back-to-back tallies starting with forward Colton Kehler (9:39 1st) and followed by forward Will Merchant (10:24 1st) to snag the lead away, 3-2. After the Thunder notched a tying tally in the second period, the Steelheads added two more with Merchant (PP, 8:50 2nd) and Kehler (17:51 2nd) pushing through their second goals for a 5-3 advantage. Merchant (PP, 14:41 3rd) completed the hat-trick late in the third period on his second power play goal before the Thunder got one back. Forward Ryan Dmowski (EN, 18:30 3rd) finished the night with the clinching goal in the 7-4 win.

Hats A-Flying: For the second-straight game, the Steelheads saw players earn hat-tricks with Ryan Dmowski on Saturday and Will Merchant on Wednesday, both of whom earned their first-career hat-tricks. The back-to-back hat-tricks marks the third time in the ECHL era that the Steelheads earn hat-tricks in consecutive nights last done on Mar. 10-12, 2010 with Mark Derlago and Mark McCutcheon on the road against the Victoria Salmon Kings and first completed as the first two hat-tricks in the ECHL era recorded by Miguel Delisle on Dec. 17-19, 2003 at home against the Bakersfield Condors. The Steelheads have five hat-tricks this season, which is the third-most in the ECHL era trailing the eight earned in 2009-10 and six in the 2010-11 campaign, however all five hat-tricks this year have come from different players.

Hearts On Fire: Since ending their six-game losing skid in Toledo, the Steelheads’ offense has come alive over their recent stretch in an impressive way. The Steelheads have netted at least five goals in each of their last four games while outscoring their opponents 18-10 even though they were shut out in their lone loss last Friday. The Steelheads have also found the mark early in games, posting a season-best seven goals in their last two games for their first leads after the opening frame since February 25 against Worcester (5-4 OTW) and the first back-to-back set of first intermission leads since January 28-29 against Kansas City at home (4-1 W & 3-2 W). Prior to this upturn, the Steelheads had only exceeded two goals three times in 15 game since February 6.

Mr. 600: Steelheads defenseman Mitch Versteeg hit a major milestone on Wednesday, playing in his 600th professional game and added an assist to his career total. Over his 13-year professional career, the Lethbridge, Alb. native has played for teams in five different countries between six leagues and 10 teams since his professional debut on Oct. 15, 2009 with the Kalamazoo Wings against Reading. In 600 games, Versteeg has posted 205 points (63-142–205) with 1035 penalty minutes as well as 26 points (6-20–26) and 166 PIMs through 91 playoff games. This season, he has seven points with 40 penalty minutes in 40 games with the Steelheads.

Out of Lightning: The Wichita Thunder continued their slide on Wednesday, increasing their losing skid to five-straight games. In that time, the Thunder have allowed three goals or more in all five games as well as six or more tallies in three of their last four, being outscored 28-13 since returning from their nine-day break. However, the slide began prior to the break now with losses in nine of 11 games since February 23, going 2-8-1-0 with six of those losses against Mountain Division opponents. It’s tied for their second-longest losing skid of the season from January 13-22 (0-4-1-0), however it still trails the team’s 14-game skid (0-11-3-0) from December 5 through January 7.

2021-22 MOUNTAIN DIVISION STANDINGS:

TEAM GP W L OTL SOL PTS PCT
Utah Grizzlies 62 36 23 2 1 75 .605
Rapid City Rush 60 32 21 4 4 70 .583
Idaho Steelheads 62 32 27 2 1 67 .540
Allen Americans 58 27 24 6 1 61 .526
Tulsa Oilers 62 30 27 3 2 65 .524
Kansas City Mavericks 64 29 30 4 1 63 .492
Wichita Thunder 61 24 29 8 0 56 .459

Next Game: The Steelheads and Thunder close their weekend on Marvel Super Hero™ Night this Saturday, Mar. 26 at 7:10 p.m. from Idaho Central Arena. Tickets are available by going to idahosteelheads.com or calling 208-331-TIXS. Coverage begins at 6:50 p.m. on 95.3 The Ticket as well as 7:00 p.m. on Sparklight Ch. 72 & FloHockey.

Upcoming Home Games

Full Schedule
Utah Grizzlies
Idaho Steelheads
Friday, October 18th
Utah Grizzlies @ Idaho Steelheads
Puck Drops:
7:10 PM MDT
Idaho Central Arena
Utah Grizzlies
UTA Utah Grizzlies
at
Idaho Steelheads
IDH Idaho Steelheads
Idaho Central Arena
Toledo Walleye
Idaho Steelheads
Wednesday, October 23rd
Toledo Walleye @ Idaho Steelheads
Puck Drops:
7:10 PM MDT
Idaho Central Arena
Toledo Walleye
TOL Toledo Walleye
at
Idaho Steelheads
IDH Idaho Steelheads
Idaho Central Arena
Toledo Walleye
Idaho Steelheads
Friday, October 25th
Toledo Walleye @ Idaho Steelheads
Puck Drops:
7:10 PM MDT
Idaho Central Arena
Toledo Walleye
TOL Toledo Walleye
at
Idaho Steelheads
IDH Idaho Steelheads
Idaho Central Arena

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