One year ago, the Idaho Steelheads lost their home opener to the Utah Grizzlies.
The winning goal was scored by rookie forward Justin Dowling.
It was a 5-on-3, and I got a rebound and scored, he remembers.
One year later, Dowling hopes to turn the tables on his old team as a member of the Steelheads.
Now Im ready to give it back to them a little bit, the 22-year-old forward said.
Dowling was acquired as a free agent during the offseason by first-year coach Brad Ralph. He submitted his opening-day roster to the ECHL on Wednesday, and it included 13 forwards, eight defensemen and two goalies.
Idaho opens its season against Utah at CenturyLink Arena on Friday night, and Dowling wont be the only player familiar with the Grizzlies system. Defenseman Patrick Cullity also played for Utah last season.
Itll be a little different being on the other bench, Cullity said.
Idaho and Utah played two preseason games last weekend, and Dowling admits it was awkward.
Ive never played against a team that Id been on before, he said. I was talking to Cullity, and it was just strange going against some of your friends that you made last year. Youre going to the corner and you have to hit them. Instead of making a play with them, youve got to hit them. So it was definitely a lot different.
After their time in Utah, both players know what to expect from fifth-year coach Kevin Colleys squad.
They always come hard, said Cullity, who has played more than 50 games in the AHL. Thats the kind of player he was, and thats what he expects from his players.
Said Dowling: Thats what he preaches in practice, work ethic. So youre always skating as hard as you can.
Ralph is glad that hell have the former Grizzlies in Steelheads uniforms this season.
Both have AHL experience, Ralph said. With Pat, weve got a well-rounded defenseman with experience. And with Dowling, weve got a player that has NHL ability. To find a player at this level who has the vision to make plays that most players cant, thats a valuable asset.
Cullity likes the team Ralph has assembled.
Its a great team, with a lot of skill and depth, he said. Obviously, with the (NHL) lockout, we have guys here who have played a lot in the American League. ... The bottom line is, were playing and were excited.
Chris Langrill: 377-6424