Idaho Steelheads fan guide: What you need to know for 2013-14

clangrill@idahostatesman.comOctober 23, 2013 

If you’re looking for a goal-scorer, then look for No. 7 on the ice. Mitch Wahl began last season with the Utah Grizzlies, and it didn’t take long to show that he can be a prodigious scorer in the ECHL. He was second in the league in scoring when he earned a call-up to the AHL in February. “He’s an NHL-caliber player who has the talent, and obviously that translated in this league,” said defenseman Patrick Cullity, who played with Wahl in Utah. “He was scoring 1.25 points per game.”

JOE JASZEWSKI — jjaszewski@idahostatesman.com

  • Idaho Steelheads fan facts

    GAME NIGHTS

    • Arena: CenturyLink Arena (233 S. Capitol Blvd. in Downtown Boise)

    • Tickets: Individual single-game tickets for adults range from $10 to $50 and can be purchased at the CenturyLink Arena box office, by calling 331-8497 or through IdahoSteelheads.com. For group deals, call 383-0080.

    • Radio: Games are live on 1350 AM. The Nov. 8 and Nov. 20 games will air on 93.1 FM. Will Hoenike is the voice of the Steelheads. The Steelheads Show airs from 6 to 7 p.m. Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.

    • TV: Cable One channel 17 will broadcast every home game live.

    • Online: Games can be heard at IdahoSteelheads.com and watched through a webcast link on the site. There are daily, monthly and season-long passes available.

    FORMER STEELHEADS IN THE NHL

    • Forward Jay Beagle (Washington), played on 2007 title team. He has played in five games this season, with a minus-1 plus/minus rating.

    • Forward Richard Clune (Nashville), played in Idaho during 2007-08 season. He has played in four games this season and notched nine penalty minutes.

    • Forward B.J. Crombeen (Tampa Bay), member of Idaho’s 2007 championship team. He has played in eight games this season and notched 12 penalty minutes.

    • Goaltender Dan Ellis (Dallas), Kelly Cup Finals MVP in 2004. He has played in five games this season, posting a 1-3 record with a 3.60 goals-against average and a .895 save percentage.

    • Forward Luke Gazdic (Edmonton), two stints in Idaho between 2009 and 2011. Gazdic has played in eight games this season. He scored a goal in his NHL debut on opening night.

    • Forward Zenon Konopka (Minnesota), member of Idaho’s 2004 title team. He has played in nine games this season and has 23 penalty minutes.

    • Steve Oleksy (Washington), played parts of three seasons with Idaho, starting in 2009. He has played in six games this season, tallying three assists and seven penalty minutes.

    AROUND THE ECHL

    • New coaches: There are four new head coaches in the Western Conference: Troy Mann (Bakersfield), Mike Madill (Las Vegas), Rich Kromm (Stockton) and Tim Branham (Utah)

    • Western Conference alignment: Mountain Division: Alaska, Colorado, Utah and Idaho. Pacific Division: Las Vegas, Ontario, Stockton, San Francisco and Bakersfield.

    • Last season: Idaho finished the regular season with a 45-20-7 record after scoring the most goals in the ECHL (262). The Steelheads advanced to the Western Conference finals, but were eliminated by the Stockton Thunder 4-1 in the best-of-seven series.

A win at home?

Idaho played its first game Friday, and lost to the Utah Grizzlies, 4-2.

“You’ve got to show up every night and work hard,” forward Brett Robinson said. “We learned that the hard way. Utah, they worked hard. Hopefully, it’s our turn to turn the jets on.”

The enforcer

Jeremy Yablonski has been a tough guy on skates for years. The former Golden Gloves boxing champion and mixed martials arts fighter has played 13 seasons of professional hockey, including one game in the NHL, where he picked up a fighting major penalty.

Yablonski, 33, has played in three different seasons with the Steelheads, but not since 2007. He is expected to make his season debut Wednesday.

“He’s been very vocal,” coach Brad Ralph said. “He’s established himself as a player who’s been through a lot and wants to help the team in any way possible.”

His reputation is such that he might have trouble finding opponents who are willing to tangle with him.

Idaho doesn’t have a secondary enforcer, but expects a handful of other players to drop the gloves when necessary.

On TV

For the first time, all home games will air live on Cable One channel 17. There are at least two other teams in the ECHL that broadcast that many games, but it’s new ground for the Steelheads.

“We want as many people as possible to see our brand,” Steelheads President and General Manager Eric Trapp said. “We don’t think that the experience we offer here is going to be impacted by the TV. … Hopefully it hooks some more people on the Steelheads and more people will come to the games.”

What's new?

Fans won’t notice any major food or amenities changes on the concourse at CenturyLink Arena, though the merchandise selection has been expanded.

Promotions

Thirsty? Head to the game on Wednesdays and enjoy $1 beers. The team also plans to do three of its popular jersey auctions (Dec. 13-14, Feb. 14-15 and April 4-5).

Style of play

The Steelheads led the league in goals scored (262) during the regular season last year, so Ralph lets his offensive players do their thing — to an extent.

“Playing sound defensively is expected of every line, whether the player is a 30-goal scorer or penalty-kill guy,” assistant coach Neil Graham said. “If they do that, then it’s OK to be creative a little bit offensively.”

Chris Langrill: 377-6424

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