Hockey

Season a ‘dream come true’ for brothers who reunite with Idaho Steelheads

Idaho Steelheads forward Alexander Dahl, right, sprints for position on offense with Utah Grizzlies forward C.J. Eick in close pursuit Dec. 8 at CenturyLink Arena in Boise.
Idaho Steelheads forward Alexander Dahl, right, sprints for position on offense with Utah Grizzlies forward C.J. Eick in close pursuit Dec. 8 at CenturyLink Arena in Boise. doswald@idahostatesman.com

Idaho Steelheads rookie Alexander Dahl scored his first professional goal on Nov. 25.

And for the first time in years, his older brother, Jefferson Dahl, was there to celebrate alongside him.

Well, sort of.

“I was in the (penalty) box actually when it happened,” Jefferson said. “But it was a special moment and cool to see him get it.”

With a near four-year age difference, the Dahl brothers were rarely on the same hockey teams growing up. They played together for two games in high school in Eau Claire, Wis., when Alexander was pulled up to varsity at the end of Jefferson’s senior season.

Other than those two games, they’ve had to share most of their hockey adventures over the phone — until now.

“I grew up watching him play. I was dragged along every weekend to watch him play tournaments,” Alexander said. “To only play two games in high school, it was fun at the time, but we felt like it was a missed opportunity to have a season together. For this to unfold and be able to play together in Idaho is more than a dream come true.”

Jefferson, 28, is in his fourth season with the Steelheads (14-7-4) and a second-year captain. He led Idaho last season with a career-high 66 points, including 22 goals. He has six goals and 12 assists so far this season.

Alexander finished up his college career at St. Lawrence in 2016-17. Steelheads coach Neil Graham kept his eye on the younger Dahl but never made any guarantees about adding him to Idaho’s ECHL franchise.

“(Jefferson and I) have a good relationship. We talk often about a lot of different things, and Alex was a guy we talked about, but at the end of the day, Jefferson knew I’m going to do what I think is best for this team and this organization,” Graham said. “I’m sure as bad as he wanted his brother, he knew it was going to be my call. That being said, Alex fits our mold perfectly.

“Anytime you can add another character guy, another former captain, another leader, it’s a no-brainer for us. The fact they’re brothers is a bonus, but they’re both their independent person and they both bring their own set of skills to this team.”

Jefferson
Forward and captain Jefferson Dahl led the Idaho Steelheads last season with 66 points. His younger brother, Alexander Dahl, joined the Steelheads this season. Brian Losness Courtesy of Idaho Steelheads

Alexander, 24, joined the Steelheads as a rookie free agent in late September. He spent the first part of the season recovering from an injury but has since played in nine games with one goal and three assists.

In terms of rookie ribbing, Alexander’s been lucky.

“I definitely had it really easy, having my brother not only as a returning player, but as the team captain,” Alexander said. “ A lot of the guys I think had some respect for me because they had respect for my brother already. They knew the family we came from. It’s been a very easy transition for me. All the guys in the locker room are great.”

The Steelheads — who host Rapid City on Wednesday and Wichita on Friday and Saturday — are coming off a stretch of seven games in 11 days. They are currently third in the ECHL’s Mountain Division 25 games into their 72-game schedule.

They have made the playoffs 20 consecutive seasons behind the leadership of players like Jefferson — and now maybe Alexander, too.

“He’s a great leader. He doesn’t say much. He just leads by example,” Alexander said of his brother. “You know exactly the attitude and the work ethic he’s going to bring every day. I think that is contagious and spreads throughout the locker room.”

Rachel Roberts: 208-377-6422, @byrachelroberts

Steelheads play three at home

If you go

  • What: Idaho Steelheads vs. Rapid City Rush (Wednesday) and Wichita Thunder (Friday-Saturday)
  • When: 7:10 p.m. each night
  • Where: CenturyLink Arena, Boise
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