1. Home
  2. News
  3. The Pieces Coming Together

The Pieces Coming Together

Thursday, November 1st
The Pieces Coming Together

Once you find out you’re moving, the clock starts ticking.

When Jeff King was acquired by the Steelheads, he knew time was of the essence to get on the road and off to Boise.

“I went down to the rink in Fort Wayne, and [the coaches] let me know that Idaho grabbed me, so I went home and within 45 minutes I was on the road because I knew it was about a 26-hour drive,” said King. “I looked at the schedule, and [Coach Neil Graham] told me he wanted me in the lineup on Friday, so I wanted to give my body as much time as possible to get rested, get ready and set up once I was here.”

After two days of driving split between two equal days and an overnight stop in Wyoming, King arrived in Boise around 6:00 p.m., went to bed, then got up the next day for one morning skate and an afternoon of resting before suiting up for two games.

In the same weekend, Elgin Pearce made a faster turnaround from the Texas Stars to the Steelheads. After playing a home game in Cedar Park, Pearce was notified that he’d join the Steelheads that night. After a 6:00 a.m. flight and 1:00 p.m. arrival in Boise, it was a couple hours to rest and then back to the rink at 5:00 p.m. for a game.

On Monday, Kale Kessy traveled to meet the Steelheads in Indianapolis just in time to get in one morning skate on Tuesday ahead of his first game with the team.

Even I’ve done the swift turnaround twice moving to other organizations.

You get the call, you pack up your life or what you have with you, and you’re off to the next destination. There’s a constant dullness in the back of your head making sure you haven’t forgotten any of the essentials, and everything around you seems to just blur together at times. It’s not ideal, but anyone will tell you that it’s part of the business.

The trick is to make it as seamless as possible.

“This is my second year pro, so it’s not anything that’s a huge shock,” said Pearce. “I played in the ECHL last year, and I’ve been up-and-down for a while, so it wasn’t anything that new, just getting used to new guys. This is a good organization, and they want to win, so it was a smooth transition for sure.”

“There’s so much movement in the ECHL that it’s really day-to-day, so you have to be able to adapt, change your lineups accordingly to call-ups, affiliations, who is healthy, etc.,” said Steelheads Head Coach Neil Graham. “There are more variables that go into it at our level, more than any other level of hockey. I think we’re doing a good job of adapting early.”

Over the last three weeks, the Steelheads have seen a number of transactions from trades to recalls, re-assignments and loans. In that time, King was acquired from Fort Wayne, Pearce and Nolan Gluchowski were assigned from AHL Texas, and Kale Kessy came back from loan in AHL Manitoba. Joe Pendenza and Tomas Sholl both played their first games of the season.

The team also saw two departures with Ondrej Vala heading back to AHL Texas and Ryan Farager was loaned to the Stockton Heat. That’s six transactions along with four first-time appearances with the Steelheads in three weeks.

The Steelheads have found some benefits to having that revolving door open early with different players gaining ice time, and over that period the team has continued to press forward and make progress. King shares the team lead with a +7 rating. Pendenza scored the overtime-winner in his season debut against Utah. Sholl earned his first win on Tuesday. Kessy brings an intangible dynamic with physicality and skill.

Even players who have played all season like Brad McClure and Steve McParland, two players who sit in the top-two in scoring on the team, continue to find their stride despite different teammates around them.

Much of that has to do with the locker room environment.

“We’ve got a good mix of getting on the ice and getting to work but we all like to have a little bit of fun in there and getting on guys,” said Pendenza. “I think when you have that, it’s a great mix because it’s not too tight in the locker room. That’s something you never really want because it carries over to gameplay.”

“It’s a team where guys care,” said Pearce. “I’ve been on teams where guys don’t care, and I don’t see anyone on this team that doesn’t care. I think that’s the first place to start with any team that’s going to be good. I got that sense right away.”

The last three games have showcased that sound chemistry and strive to be better. For the first time, the Steelheads scored the game’s opening goal in Friday’s meeting with Utah then did so again on Saturday. The Steelheads trailed only three times in three games. In addition, their four-goal second period on Tuesday’s win over Indy was just the second time this season the team accomplished that with the other coming on October 19 while trailing to the Grizzlies. Tuesday was also the first game the team finished without a one-goal differential, and they led by four for their largest differential of the season.

All throughout, the Steelheads have fielded a different roster every game. No two games have been identical, but the results keep staying positive.

“We’re fielding a strong roster, and more importantly now, we’ve just got to keep finding our identity as a team,” said Graham. “We have the roster, we have the bodies, and we have the depth, most importantly, to do that. We’ve just got to stay confident, be patient with early mistakes but be very hungry to learn and improve.”

After the first month of the season, the Steelheads are tied for second place in the Mountain Division. They’ve played just two games at home and won’t return to Idaho until they’ve played nine of their first 11 games away from CenturyLink Arena. Only one other team has had such a run: Toledo, who has played six of their first seven games away from their home rink.

Almost poetically, the Steelheads will play two games against them starting Friday night.

“The most important thing is not getting guys to stress over the results too much. If we’re still making the same mistakes a month from now, then we have to crack down on some things. I don’t think we’re going to have to do that because we keep getting better and better every day and improving in practice. We’re making steps in the right direction, and that’s the important thing in the first month of the season.”

The month ahead will get better. Seven of their 13 games will be at home before hosting games through the holidays. Even with the difficult journey, the team is continuing to improve no matter who is in the lineup.

It’s just part of the business.

Upcoming Home Games

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

Latest News

More News
TY PELTON-BYCE SIGNS PTO WITH AHL’S HENDERSON SILVER KNIGHTS
TY PELTON-BYCE SIGNS PTO WITH AHL’S HENDERSON SILVER KNIGHTS
STEELHEADS SIGN COLIN VAN DEN HURK AND JACK JENSEN TO ECHL CONTRACTS
STEELHEADS SIGN COLIN VAN DEN HURK AND JACK JENSEN TO ECHL CONTRACTS
IDAHO STEELHEADS WEEKLY – WEEK 18 – 2/20/24
IDAHO STEELHEADS WEEKLY – WEEK 18 – 2/20/24

Get Hockey Updates

Sign up for our email newsletter to be the first to know about news and upcoming games!