The Bulls kick off their final home series of the season as they take on the Steelheads from Idaho. The Bulls (24-37-8) have been locked into the eighth seed and will face Alaska in the first round of the playoffs, while the Steelheads (43-19-7) as the third seed will most likely get Colorado in the first round. The Bulls come in stumbling as they have lost four straight and are looking to turn things around as they get ready for their first playoff run. The Steelheads have been markedly different as they have been victorious in four of their last six games as they faced off with the league’s two top teams in Alaska and Ontario. The Bulls won the last meeting between the two teams with a four to three shoot out victory. The Bulls are tied with the Steelheads in the season series with a record of 3-3.
The Bulls are currently in the midst of a four game losing streak, with the most recent loss at the hands of the Bakersfield Condors. The Bulls have scored a total of five goals during their current slide as the lack of offense has been the major key to their lack of success. Newcomer Nick Czinder has been the main cog of the Bulls offense with three straight games with a point. The Bulls need to get the offense going as they only have three games left to figure it out. The Bulls will return winger Kris Belan as he has returned from his call to the Manchester Monarchs of the AHL. Belan had 20 points in 55 games, but he brings toughness and energy to Bulls team that is dire need of those two attributes right now. The Bulls will also lose Tommy Grant as he has been recalled to Worcester. Grant had five points in four games with the Bulls. Taylor Nelson has been inconsistent during the losing streak with 108 saves on 121 shots in the games for a save percentage of 89 percent. He had a couple games in which he was good enough to get the win, except for the lack of goal support from the offense.
The Steelheads have been good lately with wins in four of their last six games, including a three game sweep of the number one team in the league the Alaska Aces. Idaho has 16 goals in their last six games for an average of 2.7 goals per game. The Steelheads scored two or more goals in five of the six games. They have been led by team leading scorer Austin Smith with 12 points in his last 10 games, including six in his last six. Goalie Josh Robinson has been either hot or cold recently with 16 goals allowed over his last six starts, but he also has two shut outs during that stretch. In their two recent losses, Robinson has allowed a combined 10 goals.
The Bulls are going to have their hands full with the third place Steelheads. The Bulls are going to have to strike for a couple of early goals in order to get Robinson shaky because if Robinson can find a rhythm early then they could be in for a long night, especially with their lack of offensive output. This game tonight is on the offense as they would like to be scoring more than a goal a night as they head into the playoffs.