David Toews skated for the Bakersfield Condors against the visiting Idaho Steelheads on Jan. 4
The next night, he played for the Steelheads as they again played the Condors in California.
A lot more than his uniform changed in those 24 hours. The prospects for Toews' season, maybe even his career, improved considerably after Idaho picked him up off the waiver wire.
The second-year pro went from a last-place team to one of the top teams in the ECHL's Western Conference.
And he elevated his game.
"I don't know what his stats are since he's been here, but he's playing on our top line and he's playing on the first power-play unit," coach Brad Ralph said. "He's an offensive player, and he's got the ability to make things happen."
Toews came into Idaho's 6-3 loss to the San Francisco Bulls on Wednesday night at CenturyLink Arena with 13 points in 17 games, including two goals and two assists in the previous three contests. While with Bakersfield, he had eight points in 26 games.
"The big thing is Ralphie has confidence in me," said Toews, whose older brother is Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews. "That helps a lot, when you have a coach who is confident that you're going to make plays. It's a lot easier when you don't have a coach breathing down your neck for every little mistake you make."
It also helps to be surrounded by talent. He has teamed with forwards Tyler Gron and Tristan King to create a formidable line.
"Every night, these guys want to make plays," Toews said. "It just makes it a lot easier when you're playing with guys you can get the puck to and you have confidence they're going to make a play."
And so, after a season that didn't begin with a lot of promise, Toews is enjoying hockey again. "I just needed a change of scenery," the 22-year-old said. "We've got a good group of guys here and we're working hard. I'm pretty excited to see what we can do down the stretch."
NOTES: David de Kastrozza scored twice for Idaho and Tyler Gron had the other goal. The Steelheads led 3-1 before giving up five straight goals. Idaho goalie Josh Robinson allowed five goals on 35 shots (last Bulls goal was an empty-netter). Idaho came into the game with the best home winning percentage in the ECHL, but suffered its sixth loss in 24 contests. Defenseman Patrick Cullity has been reassigned to Idaho by Springfield (AHL). He could join the team for Friday's game in Las Vegas.