The Idaho Steelheads played the first game of a nine-game homestand Friday night at CenturyLink Arena.
A long stretch of home games appeals to every player on the roster, but no one should enjoy it more than defenseman Patrick Cullity.
The way his season has been going, however, he won't be here to enjoy all of it.
Cullity has been a human pinball, bouncing back and forth between the Steelheads and the AHL's Springfield (Mass.) Falcons.
"I know, mentally, it's got to be hard on him," Idaho coach Brad Ralph said. "But he's pretty tough mentally, and he can handle the ups and downs and produce at whatever level he is at."
Players get called up and sent down every season in the ECHL, but Cullity's case is especially dramatic for two reasons:
Æ When he gets called up or sent down, it means traveling roughly 2,600 miles.
Æ In a scheduling quirk, Cullity has played only one home game in his past 14 in a Steelheads uniform.
That adds up to a lot of time sitting in airplane seats and living out of a suitcase.
"It's been one hotel after the other," Cullity said. "When I've come back to Boise, or the team at least, it's been more time in hotels and I haven't had many home games here in the past few months."
In fact, Cullity has played in one game - on Dec. 12 - at CenturyLink Arena since Thanksgiving.
"I've lost about 10 to 13 pounds (since opening day), but at least the strength hasn't gone away. I've been able to maintain that," Cullity said. "But losing weight is inevitable with a long season and a lot of travel. Hopefully in the next few weeks, I can get stabilized here."
Ralph wouldn't mind if Cullity had an extended stay.
"He's a very good defender, so he'll play against other teams' top lines," he said.
Cullity scored in a 4-0 win over the San Francisco Bulls on Friday. It was his third goal in 31 games with Idaho.
Ultimately, Cullity would prefer to play at the AHL level, but he said he never hangs his head as he heads back to the Steelheads on another long flight across the country.
"It's been a headache at times, but if I've got to come back to a team, it's nice to come back to a winning team and a winning program,'' he said.
NOTES: Forward Brad Ross made his Steelheads debut and scored the first goal of the game and added an assist. Captain Ben Ondrus and Tyler Gron scored Idaho's other goals. Rookie goaltender Josh Robinson stopped 26 shots to earn his second shutout. Idaho had a 35-12 shots-on-goal advantage after the second period. CenturyLink Arena is hosting a free skate from 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday, and players will be on hand. Bring a can of food and turn it in for two tickets to Wednesday's game.