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PREVIEW #67: Steelheads @ Everblades

Saturday, April 2nd
PREVIEW #67: Steelheads @ Everblades

IDAHO STEELHEADS (35-28-3) @ FLORIDA EVERBLADES (36-19-10)

SATURDAY, APR. 2, 2022 | 5:00 P.M. MTHERTZ ARENA | ESTERO, FLRADIO: 95.3FM/1350AM KTIK | STREAM: FLOHOCKEY

Tonight's Game: The Steelheads close their three-game weekend and final non-divisional weekend of the regular season against the Florida Everblades from Hertz Arena.

Head-To-Head: The Steelheads and Everblades head into the rubber match of the weekend with the Everblades taking the opening game on Wednesday and the Steelheads snagging last night’s result. This is the first series head-to-head since meeting in Estero on Nov. 13-14, 2015 in back-to-back Everblades wins (4-3 OT, 3-0). The Everblades have won five of their last seven games against the Steelheads, and overall, the Steelheads are 6-6-1 in the regular season against the Everblades as well as 3-3-1 on the road. The Steelheads are 5-1-0-0 against South Division teams this season after the sweep of the South Carolina Stingrays in December and a single win against the Jacksonville Icemen in February.

Last Night: The Steelheads controlled the pace in the first period despite a scoreless frame, but in the second period they found a way to strike twice in quick succession. Forward Will Merchant (13:16 2nd) was set up for a net front chip thanks to a tic-tac-toe sequence during a 4-on-2 to net the eventual game-winner for the 1-0 lead. Exactly one minute later while on the power play, forward Ryan Dmowski (14:16 2nd) lasered a shot from the right circle to double the advantage heading into the third period. Forward Willie Knierim (6:39 3rd) cashed in on a rebound off the right post to stretch the lead to three, and goaltender Jake Kupsky denied all 18 shots in the third period en route to the 3-0 win.

Shut ‘Em Down: The Steelheads kicked off a new month with a blanking of their opposition on the road. The Steelheads earned their eighth shutout of the season and their first shutout since February 9 against Tulsa (2-0 W). On the season, the Steelheads have had four shutouts both at home and on the road with three different goaltenders earning shutouts, and now four of the eight blankings have come with 3-0 results. With that mark, the Steelheads have tied an ECHL-era record for the most shutouts in a single season, joining their 2012-13 and 2017-18 campaigns, both of which saw seven of their eight shutouts come in the second half whereas the Steelheads are even at four in each half this season.

Power Surging: The Steelheads power play continues to roll along with another tally in last night’s win over Florida. The Steelheads now have three-straight game with power play goals for the first time since February 4-6 in Wichita, going 8-for-15 (53.3%) in their most recent run for their best three-game power play stretch of the season. On top of that, the Steelheads now have tallies on the man-advantage in four of their last five games with a 10-for-23 (43.5%) clip that includes three multi-goal games as well as a five-goal night on March 26. In their last five games, the Steelheads have vaulted their overall season numbers from 20.4% (12th ECHL) to 22.5% (6th ECHL).

Kup To The Challenge: Steelheads goaltender Jake Kupsky has been on a run as of late that continued into Friday’s shutout win. The Waukesha, Wisc. product earned his first shutout since Dec. 4, 2021 in Kansas City (5-0 W) and his third on the season, tying Colton Point for the team lead, and all three of his shutouts this year have come on the road (Nov. 13, 2021 in Rapid City, 3-0 W). Recently, he has six-straight starts heading into tonight’s game and is 5-1-0 in that time while holding opponents to two goals or less in four of those contests for a 1.97 GAA and a .926 save pct. in their six-game stretch. Kupsky leads the team with a 2.50 GAA and 18 wins.

Going Streaking: The streaks continue for three Steelheads forwards with one additional skater adding his name to the list. Captain A.J. White leads the way with a six-game assist and point streak, boasting 16 points (3-13–16) with five multi-point games. His assist streak ties his season-best assist streak and is now one game shy of his best point streak of seven games set from November 24 through December 10 with eight points (2-6–8). Forwards Colton Kehler and Will Merchant have each moved to a season-best five-game point streak with Kehler leading the way with nine points (4-5–9) followed by Merchant at eight points (5-3–8). Additionally, defenseman Michael Prapavessis added his name with seven assists during his three-game point streak.

Bulking Up: The Florida Everblades have bolstered their lineup with two different Mountain Division additions over the last week. On Tuesday, the Everblades acquired forward Matteo Gennaro from the Wichita Thunder, and he debuted in last night’s game after owning the second-best point-per-game ratio with 19 points (9-10–19) in 20 games with much of his season spent with the AHL’s Bakersfield Condors. On Thursday, the Everblades received Darik Angeli from the Kansas City Mavericks and enters the team as Florida’s leader in all major scoring categories with 65 points (28-37–65) to make it four scorers with 60-plus points on the team, which leads the ECHL.

2021-22 MOUNTAIN DIVISION STANDINGS:

TEAM GP W L OTL SOL PTS PCT
Utah Grizzlies 66 38 25 2 1 79 .598
Rapid City Rush 65 33 22 5 5 76 .585
Idaho Steelheads 66 35 28 2 1 73 .553
Allen Americans 63 30 25 7 1 68 .540
Tulsa Oilers 65 32 28 3 2 69 .531
Kansas City Mavericks 66 29 31 5 1 64 .485
Wichita Thunder 64 24 31 9 0 57 .445

Next Game: The Steelheads return to Idaho Central Arena on Wednesday, Apr. 6 at 7:10 p.m. to open the final five games against the Utah Grizzlies. Tickets are available by going to idahosteelheads.com or by calling 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.tv.

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