Boise pro sports roundup: Steelheads' Cullity flourishing in greater role

clangrill@idahostatesman.comDecember 19, 2013 

Idaho defenseman Patrick Cullity has been taken advantage of his expanded role with the Steelheads.

Cullity came into Wednesday's 4-0 loss to the Bakersfield Condors with 16 points through 24 games. His career high for points in a season is 17 - in 71 games.

"He's a perfect example of someone taking advantage of an opportunity," Idaho captain Justin Mercier said. "He's making plays and he's creating stuff for guys on the ice, and that's what we need from the guys on the back end."

Coach Brad Ralph elevated Cullity to the top line and inserted him into the power play after defenseman Ryan Button was called up to Texas of the AHL in November. Cullity, a fourth-year pro, had 13 points (three goals, 10 assists) in the next 11 games.

"In the early years, I didn't quite adapt to the power play and I didn't get quite as many opportunities," Cullity said. "But Ralph has been working me in there this year, and things have been clicking."

Ralph said Cullity, who is an alternate captain, had already established himself as a team leader. Lately, he's been showing a few more tricks.

"He's done a great job of recognizing what the team needed and what he needed to do to be successful," Ralph said. "He hasn't been put in a lot of these situations in his career, but I think he's showing he has that upside to his game."

STEELIES SHUTOUT

Bakersfield came into Wednesday's game with the worst record in the Western Conference. The Condors(8-14-1) then handed Idaho its worst loss of the season.

Four Condors scored as Bakersfield goalie Laurent Brossoit (3-0) blanked the Steelies (13-8-4). It was the second time Idaho has been shut out this season.

HAWKS: VAN TOL, BUCKNER COMING BACK

Gary Van Tol will return for his second season as Boise's manager, the Chicago Cubs announced Wednesday.

Bill Buckner will return as hitting coach for the third straight season.

Van Tol led the Hawks to a 41-35 regular-season record last year. The team reached the NWL championship series before falling to Vancouver.

Buckner, who played 22 seasons in the major leagues, coached Boise's hitters the past two seasons. The team led the NWL in batting average and home runs for both seasons.

Also, Brian Lawrence will be the Hawks pitching coach. New to the Cubs organization, Lawrence spent last season with the High-A Lake Elsinore (Calif.) Storm. Lawrence won 50 games in the big leagues with the Padres and Mets.

STAMPEDE: IDAHO LOSES FOR FIRST TIME

Bakersfield defeated Idaho 100-97 in California on Wednesday. The Stampede (8-1) lost despite a game-high 31 points from Pierre Jackson and 29 from Richard Howell. Five players scored in double figures for the Jam (4-8).

• Christian Kabongo has joined the Stampede and is expected to make his debut against Los Angeles on Saturday night. Kabongo, who played two seasons at New Mexico State, was signed after EJ Singler was placed on the inactive list because of a knee injury.

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