Idaho posted back-to-back home wins over Utah to improve to 12-3-1 and take a three-point lead over Utah (11-5-0) in the West Division of the National Conference. The Steelheads ended the Grizzlies league season-high nine-game winning streak with a 7-4 win on Friday and then won 5-1 on Saturday.
Idaho plays at Las Vegas on Friday and Saturday. The Wranglers have won their last three games to improve to 9-4-1 and are in fourth place in the West, one point behind Alaska at 9-3-2. Las Vegas will play four games in five days hosting Johnstown on Tuesday and traveling to Phoenix on Thursday before hosting the Steelheads. The Wranglers record for consecutive home wins is eight games set Nov. 5-Dec. 26, 2003 and tied Feb. 15-Mar. 26, 2004.
Idaho’s Garret Bembridge has 19 points (9g-10a) in his last nine games and leads the league with 13 goals and 28 points while ranking second with 15 assists. Steve Silverthorn is 4-0-0 with a goals-against of 2.00 and a save percentage of .918 in his last four starts and is 5-1-0 with a goals-against of 2.91 and a save percentage of .891 in seven games.
Las Vegas rookie goaltender Mike McKenna is 3-0-0 with a goals-against of 1.99 and a save percentage of .925 in his last three starts and 3-0-1 with a goals-against of 2.27 and a save percentage of .916 in five games. Chris Stanley has six goals, tying him with Todd Alexander for the team lead, and 10 points, tying him for the team lead with Dan Tudin.
Returning to action for the first time since Nov. 19, Alaska will host Utah on Tuesday and Wednesday before traveling to Long Beach on Friday and Saturday and Fresno on Sunday. The Aces have won their last three games and are 5-1-0 in their last six games.
Alaska’s Chris Beckford-Tseu is 2-0-0 with goals-against of 1.00 and save percentage of .958 in his last two starts and 5-0-1 with a league-leading goals-against of 1.49 and a league-best save percentage of .945 in six games. Chris Minard, who led the league with 49 goals in 2004-05, has scored two goals in each of his last two games to increase his goal-scoring streak to four games (6g). Minard has a six-game scoring streak (7g-2a) and leads the Aces with nine goals and three game-winning goals while ranking third in scoring with 13 points in 14 games. Barrett Heisten has 11 points (4g-7a) in his last seven games and ranks second on the team with eight goals and 16 points. Mike Scott leads the Aces offense with 12 assists and 17 points.
After playing at Alaska, Utah, which beat the Aces 4-1 on Nov. 4 and 3-2 in overtime on Nov. 5, will head to Victoria for games on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Matt Craig leads league rookies and is tied for second overall with 12 goals while his three game-winning goals are tops among first-year players and tied for the overall lead. Utah’s James Laux is tied for the overall league lead with six power-play goals and 13 power-play points while among league defenseman he is tied for the scoring lead with 18 points, second in goals with six and tied for second with 12 assists.