The Steelheads arrive in the Black Hills just in time to face a resurgent Rapid City Rush squad for a three-game set at Rushmore Plaza Civic Center. After losing their first five games out of the gate, the Rush have pulled themselves back into the picture in the Mountain Division with a four-game winning streak.
The Steelheads slayed several demons with one sword on Saturday in Texas, erasing a two-goal deficit in the third period and taking down the Allen Americans in a shootout for their first road win and their first win beyond regulation this season. The 5-4 effort also was the first win for the Steelheads in a game they trailed entering the third period. The Steelheads have points in six of their last seven outings.
The Rush are set to begin a seven-game home stand, and they enter the series riding high. They took two games from the defending Kelly Cup champion Eagles over the weekend in a home-and-home, winning both games in overtime. That includes a Friday night win in which they overcame a 3-0 deficit in the final eight minutes of regulation.
Idaho will look for Brady Brassart to continue rolling, the Steelheads’ center riding a seven-game points streak into Wednesday that matches a career-high. Brassart kept the streak alive with an assist on Saturday that helped set-up linemate Steve McParland, who has five goals of his own in the past six contests.
Rookie Justin Parizek had the game-tying and shootout-winning goals on Saturday, moving him into a tie for third in the ECHL in rookie scoring and a tie for second in goal-scoring.
Henrik Samuelsson also scored for Idaho on Saturday, giving the first-year Steelhead five goals in his last seven outings.
For the Rush, Kenton Miller has been leading the charge offensively with 11 points in 11 games, including four goals and six points during his current five-game points streak. Rookie Jimmy Devito has pulled his weight as well with nine points in ten games, including the game-winning goal in the final four minutes of Saturday night’s contest.
Another rookie, Dante Salituro, has enjoyed his time in Rapid City since being sent down from AHL Iowa. Salituro was held off the sheet on Saturday night for the first time this season after netting three goals and eight points in his first six games.
While the Rush have benefited from several young players sent to them from Iowa, it’s an addition via trade that may have the bigger impact. Peter Sivak moved from Utah to the Rush in a deal last week, and the ECHL All-Star has already registered three assists in four games with Rapid City.
Goaltending was a steady position for the Rush last year with Adam Morrison in net, but this season they have already used four goaltenders. Steve Michalek had shouldered much of the load in recent weeks but was sent to AHL Iowa last week. Adam Vay came down from Iowa to replace him and won both games for the Rush against the Eagles.
STEELHEAD TO WATCH
Cody Corbett is coming off one of his best games as a Steelhead, setting up both Steelheads goals in the third period in Allen for his third two-point performance in the past five games. Corbett also made one of the game’s best defensive plays, sliding to break up a shorthanded 2-on-1 rush before rejoining the play to set up Steve McParland. The Steelheads only have one goal this season from the blue line, but Corbett’s uptick in offense is a welcome contribution and could be a sign of more to come.
RUSH TO WATCH
Peter Sivak isn’t the only veteran the Rush have added via trade. On Tuesday they brought in forward Darian Dziurzynski from the Toledo Walleye, a fifth-round draft pick of the Arizona Coyotes back in 2011. Dziursynski began the season in Slovakia before returning to the states and earning three assists in ten games with the Walleye. He is a veteran of 184 AHL games and has played 71 ECHL games in his career. In his last full ECHL campaign, he totaled 24 goals and 40 points in 61 games with the Oilers, Swamp Rabbits, and Mavericks.
The Steelheads’ power play has been coming through during the last two weeks, with both third period goals on Saturday coming with the man-advantage. The Steelheads have scored power play goals in five of the last seven games with a 21.4 percent success rate over that span. They’ll face the best penalty kill in the league, with the Rush clicking on the kill at 92.6 percent. Rapid City has surrendered just four power play goals all season, and none in their last six games or the last 34 shorthanded situations. The Steelheads own PK will look to improve after surrendering four power play goals on Saturday night.