Idaho Steelheads forward Kellan Lain is a hard fella to miss.
At 6-foot-6 — a daunting 6-8 with skates on — he is the tallest player on the roster.
Lain is also a hit on YouTube. A search for “Kellan Lain Fights” returns a reel of donnybrooks, including the infamous 2014 line brawl between the Vancouver Canucks and Calgary Flames. That was Lain’s first NHL game, and it lasted 2 seconds — he was ejected after the fight, setting an NHL record for the shortest debut.
“It was definitely memorable,” Lain said. “You don’t really picture it going that way, but that’s hockey. It was fun, and I embraced it. Playing in the NHL was my childhood dream, so it’s something I’ll never forget.”
In his next outing, Lain played a full game and scored a goal on his first NHL shot.
Despite his imposing frame and famous first-shift fight, Lain isn’t really a brawler — he only has 16 penalty minutes through 19 games in Boise. But he’s definitely not afraid to mix it up when the occasion calls for it, and his physical play has been a nice addition to coach Neil Graham’s lineup.
“Kellan is a very difficult player to contain because of his size and reach,” Graham said. “He brings a great presence in front of the net, he’s outstanding on face-offs, and he’s a solid two-way center who plays a hard, heavy game.”
According to Steelheads public address announcer Britt Talbert, there’s a reason many of Lain’s fights end up on YouTube.
“Kellan’s not a guy who fights for show,” Talbert said. “If he’s in a fight, he’s sticking up for a teammate, and he’s looking to do some damage.”
Loyalty to teammates helped bring Lain to Boise this season. He was college roommates with fellow Steelheads forward Kyle Jean, who campaigned hard for a Lake Superior State reunion in Idaho.
“We’re good buddies, so I kept after him all summer,” Jean said. “He came to my wedding, and I worked him pretty hard. I just told him how much I loved playing in Boise, and I knew he would, too.”
This is Lain’s first season in the ECHL, and he has made himself right at home. In addition to his physical play and face-off prowess, Lain has been heating up in the scoring column, netting three goals and four points over his last five games.
“He’s definitely a guy who can bang in some goals,” Jean said. “And he’s a huge asset to our team with the veteran calmness he brings to the room. The younger guys look up to him and the leadership he provides.”
Later this season, Lain hopes to cross an item off his career bucket list by playing in the Kelly Cup playoffs. Lain has yet to taste postseason hockey through three full professional seasons, but he stands a great chance with an Idaho franchise that has a 19-year playoff streak.
“We have a great group of guys here,” Lain said. “We’ve hit a little bit of a slide here of late, but we know we can get it going back in the right direction, and I know this team can do a lot of big things.”
Idaho Steelheads continue homestand
▪ Who: vs. Rapid City Rush
▪ When: 7:10 p.m. Friday and Saturday
▪ Where: CenturyLink Arena
▪ Radio/TV: 1350 AM/Cable One channel 72
▪ Tickets: CenturyLink Arena box office or idahosteelheads.com
▪ Notable: Idaho continues a three-game homestand against Rapid City after losing 5-2 on Wednesday, raising its losing streak to four games. ... Goalie Philippe Desrosiers was recalled by the AHL affiliate Texas Stars on Thursday. ... The third-place Steelheads are three points behind Alaska and five behind Colorado in the Mountain Division standings……Idaho is 9-4-1 at home this season, but 0-2 overall versus Rapid City.