Steelheads: Game Day Storylines at Wichita
The Steelheads play their fifth consecutive road game on Friday night with their first visit of the season to INTRUST Bank Arena to play the Wichita Thunder. The Steelheads have split the first four games of their four-game road swing, starting the trip with a loss in Utah before taking two of three from the Rapid City Rush. The Thunder are winless in their last five games, sitting six points behind second place Idaho and five points in front of fourth place Tulsa in the Mountain Division.
Philippe Desrosiers made 21 saves on Saturday night in Rapid City for his second shutout of the season, and the fourth for the Steelheads this year, in a 3-0 victory over the Rush. Will Merchant scored the eventual game-winner for the Steelheads, giving him eight goals in nine games. Max French and Steve McParland also scored for the Steelheads, who earned their eighth win of the season over the Rush.
We Hardly Know Ye...
With 16 games left on the Steelheads' schedule, and 15 for the Thunder, there is still plenty of time for movement in the Mountain Division standings. Still, if the season ended today these teams would be meeting in the first round of the playoffs. While the Steelheads have played 49 games this season against divisional opponents, they have played the fewest against Wichita with only two meetings thus far. That pair at CenturyLink Arena in mid-December was a split, at the time tying the two teams in the standings with 36 points. The Steelheads also make just their second visit ever to INTRUST Bank Arena, having split a pair of overtime games in Wichita in February of 2016. The Steelheads and Colorado Eagles are tied for the best record against Mountain Division opponents with 63 points, while the Thunder hold the league's fifth-best points total on home ice with 39.
Rosie the Rampart...
Philippe Desrosiers capped a stellar month of February last Saturday with a shutout victory over the Rapid City Rush, Desrosiers' second shutout win in a span of five starts. In February, Desrosiers appeared in eight consecutive games (one in relief) and compiled a record of 5-2-0 along with a 1.85 goals-against average and a .932 save percentage. Desrosiers' 22 wins rank fourth among ECHL goaltenders. Goaltending and defense may be more critical for the Steelheads this weekend without Max French and Steve McParland, both called to AHL Texas earlier this week. French was in the midst of a four-game goal-scoring streak in which he had scored six goals, while McParland leads the team this season with 25 tallies.
Close Down Cuddemi...
With several of Wichita's other offensive leaders struggling to find the back of the net, Ralph Cuddemi has been the Thunder's go-to producer. The former Utah Grizzly enters Friday's action with a five-game point streak totaling four goals and ten points. Over his last nine games, Cuddemi has six goals and 14 points and has factored into 53.8 percent of Wichita's goals. The Steelheads are well aware of Cuddemi's capabilities, with the scorer netting a goal and an assist in the first two meetings with Wichita this year and two goals and five points in seven meetings last year when he was with Utah.
Idaho Leaders Thunder Leaders
Goals: Parizek (21) Goals: Cuddemi (23)
Assists: J. Dahl (35) Assists: Cuddemi/Bauer (26)
Points: J. Dahl (55) Points: Cuddemi (49)
Plus/Minus: Brassart/Sweetman (+14) Plus/Minus: Thibault (+11)
Power Play Goals: J. Dahl (8) Power Play Goals: Beaudry (6)
Goals-Against Average: Desrosiers (2.53) Goals-Against Average: Starrett (2.91)
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ECHL Stories from March 2, 2018
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