The Steelheads are back on the road this weekend, traveling over 1500 miles for their first ever visit to Moline, Illinois and TaxSlayer Center for a pair with the Quad City Mallards. The Steelheads will look to get back in the win column after grabbing one point over their last two contests. The Mallards hope to recover from consecutive defeats.
The Steelheads dropped their first road game of the season on Saturday night, a 3-0 loss to the Utah Grizzlies. They made good use of a friendly schedule to start the season with four straight home games, grabbing five of an available eight points. The Mallards will have played five of their first six games on home ice by the end of this series, but to this point have grabbed just one win.
The line of Justin Parizek, Steve McParland, and Brady Brassart has driven the Idaho offense to start the season, with the trio combining for four goals and nine points in the past three games. That stretch included Saturday’s shutout loss, where that line was still a force for Idaho.
Idaho has driven possession in five games, averaging 37.8 shots per game to rank fourth in the league. They haven’t had the puck luck just yet, their three goals per game averaging 12th and a figure they hope will improve against a Mallards team that has given up at least three goals in every outing.
The Mallards have relied heavily upon two returners to drive their scoring attack, with Sam Warning and Justin Kovacs accounting for five of Quad City’s nine goals this season. Both had points in each of the season’s first three games prior to Saturday’s shutout loss to Toledo.
The Mallards’ roster also lists former Steelhead Tristan King and former Rapid City Rush forward Josh MacDonald. McDonald had 23 goals last season between Rapid City and Quad City.
After the Steelheads faced a struggling Utah power play last week, they’ll face another man-advantage unit looking to break out in Moline. The Mallards are still without a power play goal this season, going scoreless in 15 attempts.
STEELHEAD TO WATCH
Justin Parizek had an impressive start to his professional career, totaling five points in his first five games to sit fourth in ECHL rookie scoring. Parizek had his first career two-goal game and three-point game on Friday night, and even in a shutout loss on Saturday he put three shots on net. Parizek’s quick release has made him a scoring threat in every game, as his shooting percentage of 20 percent shows.
MALLARD TO WATCH
Goaltender CJ Motte had a strong 2016-17 campaign with the Mallards, winning 20 games and finishing in the top-10 in both save percentage and goals-against average. Motte hasn’t gotten off to a similar start this season, losing his first two games and giving up seven goals combined. Quad City’s other goalie, rookie Ivan Kulbakov, has had similar troubles between the pipes. For a team that has struggled to score and is looking to turn things around, the solution may begin in the crease with one of last year’s leaders.
The Steelheads trailed 2-0 in the first 50 seconds of last Friday’s game against Utah and 2-0 in the first five minutes the following night. While the Steelheads hope their high shot totals will yield more offense, they will also expect to have better defensive performances at the start of games. The Steelheads have been outscored in first periods 7-4 in this young season, and the Mallards have had early trouble as well. Quad City has been outscored 8-2 in opening periods, and they have surrendered the first goal in all four games this year.