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From Farm To Ice

Friday, February 7th
From Farm To Ice

Coming from a hockey-loving family from Strongfield, Saskatchewan, Brady Norrish’s hockey journey began when he was just a toddler. 

“I had skates on by the time I was probably three years old,” Norrish said. “I’m glad I was able to play as long as I did and I’m thankful I’m still playing right now.”

There were other options he could have picked like football, volleyball and even badminton, all of which he played, but hockey was his first love. Having a twin brother, Chase Norrish, by his side also played an important role in his growing passion for the game. They played alongside each other throughout junior hockey and, coincidentally, ended up playing the sport they love at the same college: Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT).

“It was a really cool experience to be able to share that with another person, let alone my brother,” Norrish said. “My brother has been a big part of all the success I’ve had.”

After their collegiate careers, their paths diverged with Brady advancing to professional hockey and Chase pursuing other avenues. Despite their split, they still share similar mentalities thanks to their childhood spent living on a farm and working for their family. Life as a farmer is something that a lot of people take for granted. Not only is working on a farm physically demanding, it can also be mentally draining due to its heavy workload with few days off.

For Brady, farming was not just a job; it was his lifestyle.

“He’s a farmer from Saskatchewan so he knows what it takes to work,” said Steelheads Head Coach Everett Sheen, now in his second year working with Brady. “His willingness to do whatever it takes to get to the next level and what he does consistently on a day-to-day basis really sets him aside.”

He’s already had a taste of the next level, signing an AHL contract with the Texas Stars, the team’s AHL affiliate, after the first month of last season. While with the Steelheads, he continues to not take practice time for granted, utilizing that time to improve his game and develop new skills both offensively and defensively.

Norrish’s presence on the ice is also something that cannot be overlooked.

Just last Friday, he was responsible for two of the three points scored against the Rapid City Rush: the game-tying goal late in the third period and the overtime game-winning assist to forward Brett Supinski. With those two recent points, he now has 48 points in 95 games, which has put him one point outside the top-10 for career points by a defenseman in the Steelheads ECHL era. 

“Since I started playing with him, I’ve always admired him as a player,” said defenseman Keegan Kanzig. “He’s sound defensively but he can move. He can fly like the wind.”

“One thing that the fans don’t realize is his shift length,” Sheen said. “He’s been able to extend his shift lengths and it really helps him be more effective throughout the game because he can handle a bigger workload.”

Aside from his improvement as an overall hockey player, Norrish has utilized his hard working mindset in helping make him one of the core leaders on the back line for the Steelheads. He was a three-year captain at RIT and helped lead the Tigers to conference championships in 2015 and 2016, and that experience has helped him in the transition to the pro game as well as a Steelheads locker room filled with different types of leaders.

“He’s more of a guy who leads by example,” Sheen said. “In games, he does all the little details so guys tend to follow his lead just from what he does on the ice.”

His speed and versatility has been a focal point this season, posting a plus-eight rating in October to lead to the team’s first ECHL Plus Performer of the Month. A lot of that simply has to do with utilizing his time better and longer on the ice.

All his hard work and dedication to the game of hockey eventually paid off.

Norrish was chosen to represent the Steelheads at the 2020 ECHL All-Star Classic as a member of the Western Conference. The 3-on-3 format fit Norrish’s style of play well and helped showcase what he’s improved on over the last two seasons. His 95 mile-per-hour shot in the Hardest Shot Competition blew away his competitors by over seven miles per hour. His raw strength and power that he displays whether contributing to the offensive side of the game or helping out in the defensive zone does not go unnoticed.

According to Norrish, his experience was one that he was grateful for and will always remember.

“I was very fortunate to be part of it,” Norrish said. “The league’s full of good hockey players so it was a lot of fun to be able to pass the puck around with them.”

Since moving to Boise, Norrish has enjoyed his time spent in the city as well as playing in front of an electric crowd at CenturyLink Arena that has been sold out in 10 games already this season. The smaller but tighter arena compares to a lot of rinks in his hometown, drawing a parallel that makes Boise feel like home.

“This organization is top-notch and it kind of reminds me of hockey back home,” Norrish said. “It’s a good atmosphere here and there’s a lot of good fans; there’s no downside to playing hockey in Boise, Idaho.”

Norrish, now 26 years old, is looking forward to seeing where his hockey career will take him. Like most hockey players in his position, his dreams consist of making it to the NHL sometime down the road. When the time comes to step away, he already has his mind set for that next step.

“My family farm back home is something I’m a big part of. Someday, I hope to continue that, keep growing that, and keep flourishing with that.”

He remains dialed in on prolonging his time being able to play the sport he’s grown a true passion for, all the while continuing to cultivate that farmer mentality to get to the next level. For now, Norrish is looking forward to competing with his teammates day in and day out, and finishing out the season on a high note.

“It’s been an incredible two years that I’ve been here. I’m very happy with where I’m at in pursuing my hockey career.”

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