With the Idaho Steelheads celebrating twenty seasons, people might wonder what the team was like when they first started out in 1997. With the first home stand coming to an end, why not compare the atmosphere at the first game in 1997 to the Steelhead’s first game of the 2016-2017 season.
The energy inside CenturyLink Arena on October 21st was electric, even with a few seats to spare. But what was the atmosphere like in the arena on that first night in 1997, and in that first season? Two men who played for the Steelheads during their first season remember firsthand.
Troy Edwards, now a Territory Sales Representative, played for the Steelheads from October of 1997 to August of 2000. Edwards was the assistant coach for the Steelheads when they won their first Kelly Cup Championship in 2004, and received the Top Defenseman Award for the 2000 season. He remembers fondly his first Steelheads game 19 years ago.
“It was an incredible atmosphere that night,” said Edwards. “Hockey was still a novelty then, so all sorts of people came together to experience the sport, drink 30 ounce beers, and cheer on the team.”
According to Troy, hockey was a new sport for a lot of people in Boise, so the crowds would cheer for basically everything. The adrenaline in the arena gave the players a push. There is still an incredible amount of energy today when the Steelheads hit the ice.
Scott Davis was another former player able to dish about the 1997 Steelheads season. Davis, unlike Edwards, did not play the first game. He played for the Bakersfield Fog, until he had the opportunity to play against the Steelheads. After talking to a few Steelheads players, Davis was convinced that he should be a member of the Idaho Steelheads.
"The whole town was buzzed about hockey, you could feel the electricity in the town even during weeks when there were not any games,” said Davis.
He reminisced about how the arena would be packed during warm ups, and the crowd would go nuts about every little thing. “We were a hardworking team that blue collar crowds enjoyed,” said Davis. “We were a brand new team and a lot of people had never watched hockey before, so each game felt like the playoffs. It was the most fun, rewarding, gratifying year I have ever experienced.”
Both of these players’ accounts make it clear that the history of the Steelheads is embedded in this town. Fans at Steelheads games are just as passionate as they were in the first days in 1997. Twenty years later, people still love this sport and this team.