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Graham named new bench boss for Steelheads

Friday, August 7th
Graham named new bench boss for Steelheads

Boise, ID (8/7/2015) – The Idaho Steelheads announced Friday that Neil Graham has been named the team’s new Head Coach and Director of Hockey Operations.

Graham replaces Brad Ralph, who resigned Tuesday to become the head coach of the WHL’s Kelowna Rockets.  Graham served as Ralph’s full-time assistant each of the past two seasons after serving as a player/coach for the Steelheads during the 2012-13 season.  At 30 years old, Graham is the youngest Head Coach in Steelheads history and also the youngest bench boss currently in the ECHL.

“I’m extremely excited for this opportunity,” Graham said. “We have a lot of good players coming back and coming in, so I’m excited to get to work.  My wife and I call Boise home, the community has really embraced us and I’m ready to put together a team that will represent it as well as it has for the past two decades.”

Graham becomes the fifth head coach during Idaho’s ECHL tenure and seventh overall since pro hockey arrived in Idaho in 1997

“We’re very happy that Neil has stayed on-board and become our Head Coach,” team President Eric Trapp said. “We had a lot of interest in the position but we quickly decided that Neil was the best fit for us.  He’s been involved in all avenues of coaching at this level, from budgeting to recruiting to on-ice, we’re excited to keep the program moving forward and we expect him to be very successful as the Head Coach.”

As Idaho’s assistant the past two seasons, Graham’s primary on-ice duties involved the team’s defense and penalty-kill units.  Both groups ranked in the top five in the ECHL last season, as Idaho allowed just 2.6 goals per game (ranked 5th in ECHL) and successfully killed off 86 percent of the penalties it faced (4th).

The Calgary, Alberta, native is a graduate of Mercyhurst University (NCAA) where he played hockey for four seasons before turning pro.  He split three seasons between the ECHL and Southern Professional Hockey League, scoring 42 goals and adding 56 assists in 113 professional games, before changing his career focus to coaching.

Graham and his wife, Meg, will continue to live year-round in Boise.

Idaho’s chronology of head coaches:

NameLeague(s)Season(s)Record
Dave LangevinWCHL1 (1997-1998)27-30-7
Clint MalarchukWCHL2 (1998-2000)62-70-11
John OlverWCHL/ECHL5 (2000-2005)228-100-30 (combined)
Derek LaxdalECHL5 (2005-2010)217-108-35
Hardy SauterECHL2 (2010-2012)63-59-22
Brad RalphECHL3 (2012-2015)132-64-20
Neil GrahamECHLCurrent

The Steelheads open the regular season on Friday, October 16, at home against the Rapid City Rush.  It is the first of 36 home games, each of which will be played at CenturyLink Arena.

Season tickets are on sale now with full-season packages starting as low as $275 per seat for all 36 home games.  Partial-season packages are also available.  Contact the Idaho Steelheads at 208-383-0080 for more information or log on to www.idahosteelheads.com.

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Wednesday, February 28th
Utah Grizzlies @ Idaho Steelheads
Puck Drops:
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Friday, March 1st
Utah Grizzlies @ Idaho Steelheads
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Saturday, March 2nd
Utah Grizzlies @ Idaho Steelheads
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7:10 PM MST
Idaho Central Arena
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