PREVIEW: IDAHO STEELHEADS (7-2-2) @ RAPID CITY RUSH (6-3-2)
FRIDAY, NOV. 8, 2019 | 7:05 P.M. MT
RUSHMORE PLAZA CIVIC CENTER | RAPID CITY, SD
RADIO: 93.1-FM KTIK | STREAM: ECHL TV
Tonight’s Game: The Steelheads continue their eight-game road trip with their second of three meetings against the Rapid City Rush from Rushmore Plaza Civic Center.
Head-To-Head: The Steelheads dropped the road series opener for the first time since 2016-17 and failed to earn a point in the overall season opener in that same time with their loss on Wednesday. However, the Steelheads have won 16 of the last 22 series meetings dating back to March 2018 with the help of 12 wins last season. The Steelheads are now 38-14-4 against the Rush all-time and will meet a total of 13 times with five more coming from Rushmore Plaza Civic Center.
Last Game: The Steelheads fell behind early and were dropped 5-1 by the Rush on Wednesday night from Rushmore Plaza Civic Center. Rush forwards Alex Rauter (PP, 10:10 1st) and Brennan Saulnier (SH, 11:16 1st) quickly began the special teams takeover early to double their lead to 2-0 before forward Tyler Coulter (PP, 5:32 2nd) added to it in the second period. Saulnier (14:37 2nd, 19:37 2nd) found help from fortunate bounces and a late scramble to finish the hat-trick and take a 5-0 lead. Steelheads forward Will Merchant (2:09 3rd) answered to cut out the shutout bid, however the road side was unable to tally again in the 5-1 loss. Merrick Madsen (1-1-0) halted 36 of 37 shots in the win. Tomas Sholl (5-1-2) stopped 17 of 22 shots in the loss, and Colton Point denied both shots in relief.
Road Warriors: The Steelheads are in the midst of a long opening stretch away from CenturyLink Arena while playing in game two of their eight-game road swing. Thus far, the Steelheads have performed well away from Boise, boasting a 5-1-2-0 record through eight games, trailing only South Carolina (5-1-0-0) and Toledo (4-1-0-0) for the best road record in the ECHL while sharing the most wins. Four of their first eight games have come against the Utah Grizzlies (4-0-0) while Rapid City will be the second team that faces the Steelheads more than once. The two play two more games this week before three opponents (Wichita, Tulsa, Allen) in three days next weekend.
Double Trouble: For the first time this season, the Steelheads conceded a shorthanded goal and a hat-trick during Wednesday’s loss to the Rush. The shorthanded tally was the first time since Mar. 16, 2019 vs. Orlando (20 games) that the Steelheads have conceded that type of goal as well as on the road, and it’s also the first time since Mar. 9, 2019 (21 games) vs. Wichita that the Steelheads have allowed a hat-trick. The last hat-trick allowed on the road was also against the Rush on Dec. 31, 2018 when Pierre-Luc Mercier scored three times in a 6-5 win over the Rush. The Steelheads have allowed only 15 hat-tricks since the 2006-07 season.
Marco, Polo: Steelheads forward Marc-Olivier Roy added another assist to his total in Wednesday’s loss, not only keeping atop the team in assists (11) but also extending his assist streak to nine games. With an assist tonight, the Boisbriand, Que. native will tie the Steelheads ECHL record for most consecutive games with an assist (10) set by Brett Robinson during the 2014-15 while tallying 15 assists. Roy has not missed a game with an assist yet and shares the ECHL lead in assists as well as overtakes Fort Wayne’s Mason Bergh and Newfoundland’s Scott Pooley for the longest point streak of the year. He also sits tied for 10th in overall scoring.
The Merch Man: Steelheads forward Will Merchant may have put up the only goal in Wednesday’s game, but his consistent scoring atop the lineup has been key during the first quarter of the season. The Eagen, Minn. product has back-to-back games with goals for the second time this season and has notched points in seven of his first 11 games with one multi-goal game (Oct. 19 vs. Wichita) and one multi-assist game (Nov. 1 vs. Utah) to his name. He’s averaging a point-per-game over his last four games and now owns nine points (5-4–9) through 11 appearances overall, leading the team in power play goals (2) and sitting third in scoring. He’s seven points from breaking the top-10 in Steelheads ECHL career scoring (117), six goals from that top-10 career list (53) and nine assists from the career assists top-10 (72).
He Came, He Saul: Rush forward Brennan Saulnier had a career night on Wednesday, totaling a four-point game (3-1–4) while also netting his first career ECHL hat-trick. The former University of Alabama-Huntsville graduate was scoreless in his last three games before the effort, which is also his first multi-point game of the season. The Halifax, Nova Scotia native totaled 37 points (17-20–37) between Division 1 and 2 in Sweden following his four-year collegiate career. Through 10 games in his first North American season, Saulnier owns eight points (5-3–8).
MOUNTAIN DIVISION STANDINGS:
|Rapid City Rush||11||5||3||2||0||14||.636|
|Kansas City Mavericks||9||3||6||0||0||6||.333|
Next Game: The Steelheads and Rush complete their three-game weekend on Saturday, Nov. 9 at 7:05 p.m. from Rushmore Plaza Civic Center. Coverage begins at 6:45 p.m. on 1350 KTIK-AM "The Ticket" & ECHL.TV.