PREVIEW: Game #63 – Steelheads @ Solar Bears
PHOTO: Noah Saucerman Pitts

PREVIEW: IDAHO STEELHEADS (35-22-5) @ ORLANDO SOLAR BEARS (34-21-5)

SUNDAY, MAR. 17, 2019 | 3:30 P.M. MT
AMWAY CENTER | ORLANDO, FL
RADIO: 1350 AM KTIK

Tonight’s Game: The Steelheads have the chance to clinch a playoff spot in the midway game of their three-game series against the Orlando Solar Bears from RDV Sportsplex.

Head-To-Head: The Steelheads have dropped their first two franchise games against the Solar Bears crossing over three seasons, joining their first game on Nov. 12, 2015 from Amway Center in a 5-4 loss. The loss is the first against a South Division opponent in three attempts, and over the last two seasons the Steelheads are 5-3-0-0 against teams in the South Division.

Last Night: The Steelheads were taken down in a 6-2 loss to the Solar Bears on Saturday night from Amway Center. The Solar Bears scored three goals in the first period starting with forward Trevor Olson (SH, 9:11 1st) and followed by forwards Troy Bourke (18:53 1st) and Mathieu Foget (19:58 1st) to take a 3-0 lead. Solar Bears forward Colby McAuley (PP, 0:36 2nd), forward Otto Somppi (6:32 2nd) and defenseman Akim Aliu (6:52 2nd) added another trifecta to spread the lead to 6-0. The Steelheads answered with a tally by forward Steve McParland (PP, 18:22 2nd) and another by forward Elgin Pearce (12:52 3rd) to cut into the lead, 6-2. However, the Steelheads couldn’t add to the push in the loss. Connor Ingram (3-1-0) halted 28 of 30 shots in the win, while Tomas Sholl (21-11-0) stopped 29 of 35 shots in the loss.

Controlling Destiny: Despite the loss last night, the Steelheads are now one win away from clinching a spot in the 2019 Kelly Cup Playoffs. With a loss by the Rapid City Rush, the Steelheads saw their magic number reduced to just two, meaning a win of any kind this evening will punch their postseason ticket. If the Steelheads are not able to earn a win, the next available opportunity would be on Monday when the Rush are back in action against Utah or Tuesday if the Rush also win that game when the Steelheads finish their series with Orlando. With 10 games remaining, the Steelheads are three points behind the Oilers for first place in the Mountain Division and one point ahead of the Utah Grizzlies for second place. The Steelheads will play their game in-hand over the Oilers this afternoon.

Slight Dip: The Steelheads haven’t seen as many positive results as of late to open March, dropping their third-straight game for only the second time this season. The last occurrence came from February 6-9 in Utah, but unlike that stretch the Steelheads have earned a point in an overtime loss on March 9 against Wichita. Since February 23, the Steelheads have dropped six of their last eight games, going 2-5-1 while being held under four goals in five of those eight games. The Steelheads have allowed six goals in back-to-back games in their first two occurrences this season.

Powering Up: The Steelheads helped their case on the power play in last night’s game, scoring one of their two total goals on the man-advantage. With that tally by Steve McParland, the Steelheads have now scored power play goals in three of their last four games, going 3-for-16 (18.8%) and popping the team into the top-10 among all ECHL teams in the process. Lately, the Steelheads power play has been a bit more consistent, scoring in five of their last 10 games with six goals in that stretch and a 17.1% conversion rate. On the season, the Steelheads have a 18.3% conversion rate on the power play while sitting fifth among road power play units (29-for-127, 22.8%).

Scoring Trio: Once again, the Steelheads forward unit of Mitch Moroz, Elgin Pearce and Kyle Schempp connected on another tally for half of the team’s points in last night’s loss. The trio have had at least one member earn points in 12 of their last 13 games since February 13 with at least two of those three playing on the same line consistently. In that time (13 games), both Moroz (2g, 10a) and Pearce (6g, 6a) have led the team in scoring with 12 points each, and Schempp (6g, 4a) shares the team lead in that time in goals scored to help combine for 32 points (2.46 line points per game).

Bourke of Troy: Solar Bears forward Troy Bourke continued a monstrous run with a four-point game in last night’s win, extending his point streak to four games. In that time, the Onoway, Alb., native has three multi-point games with 11 points (3g, 8a) since March 9 and a total of 10 multi-point games in his 20 total games this season. In parts of three seasons, Bourke has averaged over one point per game in each season he’s played and leads the ECHL in points per game (1.70) by two-tenths of a point. In 20 games, he owns 34 points (10g, 24a) and sits fourth on the team in scoring despite missing half of the season in the AHL.

MOUNTAIN DIVISION STANDINGS:

TEAMGPWLOTLSOLPTSPCT
Tulsa Oilers6336214278.619
Idaho Steelheads6235223275.605
Utah Grizzlies6233214474.597
Kansas City Mavericks6132243269.566
Rapid City Rush6426305360.469
Wichita Thunder6224296357.467
Allen Americans6522374250.385

Next Game: The Steelheads and Solar Bears close their series on Tuesday, Mar. 17 at 5:00 p.m. MT from Amway Center. Coverage begins at 4:45 p.m. on 1350AM KITK.