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PREVIEW #64: Steelheads vs. Thunder

Saturday, March 26th
PREVIEW #64: Steelheads vs. Thunder

IDAHO STEELHEADS (33-27-3) VS. WICHITA THUNDER (24-29-9)

SATURDAY, MAR. 26, 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 close their season series with the Wichita Thunder from Idaho Central Arena.

Head-To-Head: The Steelheads have officially taken the home portion of their season series with one game remaining and have a chance to take the series outright with both the Steelheads and Thunder taking three wins so far. The three overtime games head-to-head are the most against a single opponent for the Steelheads this season and have won two of those three decisions. The Steelheads are 3-2-1 against the Thunder so far despite Wichita taking three of four in Kansas. The Steelheads have points in eight of 10 games over the last two seasons head-to-head, and they are 11-5-6 all-time against the Thunder as well as 6-2-1 in Boise.

Last Night: The Steelheads took control of the tempo for most of the first period and were rewarded while in the midst of a change. Forward Mason Mitchell (17:45 1st) directed a back door play into the net as he snuck behind the defense for the 1-0 advantage. The Thunder pressed back and earned the lone goal of the middle frame, leading to a tight third period. Forward Ryan Dmowski (0:39 3rd) led off with an early strike for the one-goal lead, but the Thunder found one in the back half to force overtime, 2-2. The Steelheads and Thunder see-sawed chances, but defenseman Darren Brady (6:36 OT) took advantage of a miscue and sealed the extra point in the 3-2 overtime win.

Three’s Company: The Steelheads are back on the winning side, extending their run to three-straight wins during the homestand to take a majority of games in Boise. This is the first win streak by the Steelheads since their season-best five-game stretch from January 26 through February 4, which also included an overtime winner over Wichita. In their recent run, they’ve powered through shots, boasting 41.33 shots per game while holding opponents to two goals or less in three of four overall contests. The Steelheads have now won four of their last five games since snapping their six-game losing skid with one game remaining in the homestand, where they’ve gone 3-1-0 so far.

Post-Regulation Runs: The Steelheads took on their fifth overtime win in Friday’s contest over the Thunder after a long sting without an appearance. The Steelheads returned to overtime for the first time in exactly one month: February 25 vs. Worcester (5-4). Including shootouts, the Steelheads have won three-straight post-regulation appearances since February 18 against three different opponents. Since the start of February, the Steelheads have played six of their 10 post-regulation games (22 games) compared to just four in 41 contests. The Steelheads are 5-2 in overtime and 2-1 in shootouts, sitting tied for third in best post-regulation record (.700) while only trailing Kalamazoo (4-0, 1-0) and Wheeling (8-2).

Leaders Leading: The Steelheads’ recent strong form has come in tandem with the rise of the team’s top line since their win in Toledo. Over their last five games, the veteran line of Ryan Dmowski, Will Merchant and A.J. White have been involved in 14 of the team’s 20 regulation goals (70.0%) with two of those coming on the power play on Wednesday. The trio has posted a combined for 30 points (13-17–30) out of the team’s total 57 points (52.6%) in all goal scenarios with White (3-9–12) leading in assists & points followed by Dmowski (7-4–11) and Merchant (3-4–7). Three of the team’s five hat-tricks this season have come from the trio of skaters with two in the last three games: Dmowski last Saturday and Merchant on Wednesday.

Fall From Grace: The Wichita Thunder had an improvement in performance on Friday, however they could not break out of their skid. Despite picking up a point to break away the run of pointless contests, the Thunder have still dropped six-straight games, which is now their longest losing skid since the league-high 14-straight losses (0-11-3) from December 5 through January 7. The loss on Friday is the closest game of their skid with their next-closest a two-goal loss to Allen on March 20 (3-1 L), but the team has allowed at least three goals in all six losses over the last two weeks. The Thunder are in the midst of a six-game road trip that began on March 20 and will be completed between Tulsa and Kansas City in April. However, the Thunder find themselves 10 points back of a playoff spot with 10 games remaining in the regular season.

2021-22 MOUNTAIN DIVISION STANDINGS:

TEAM GP W L OTL SOL PTS PCT
Utah Grizzlies 63 36 24 2 1 75 .595
Rapid City Rush 61 32 21 4 5 71 .582
Idaho Steelheads 63 33 27 2 1 69 .548
Allen Americans 59 28 24 6 1 63 .534
Tulsa Oilers 63 31 27 3 2 67 .532
Kansas City Mavericks 64 29 30 4 1 63 .492
Wichita Thunder 62 24 29 9 0 57 .460

Next Game: The Steelheads open their final non-divisional three-game weekend against the Florida Everblades on Wednesday, Mar. 30 at 5:30 p.m. MT from Hertz Arena. Coverage begins at 5:15 p.m. on 95.3 The Ticket & FloHockey.

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