BOISE, Idaho – Captain and forward A.J. White returns to the Idaho Steelheads for his fourth season in the Treasure Valley, signing an ECHL Standard Player Contract (SPC) for the 2021-22 season, Head Coach and Director of Hockey Operations Everett Sheen announced on Monday.
“I’m extremely excited,” said White on returning to the Steelheads. “It’s just a refreshing new start with not being able to play last year. I’ve got those exciting nerves that I haven’t gotten recently.”
White, 29, re-joins the Steelheads after playing 60 games with the Utah Grizzlies last season due to the pandemic, posting 15 goals and 25 assists for 40 points with 18 penalty minutes and nine power play goals. The Dearborn, Mich. native led the Grizzlies in power play goals and finished third in assists and point as well as fourth in goals scored. This comes following a 41-point (15-26—41) effort with the Steelheads in 61 games during the pandemic-shortened 2019-20 season when he finished second on the team in assists and points.
This will be the fourth season in Idaho for White, who first joined the organization during the 2017-18 season. In that time, he has served as Captain for two-consecutive seasons and missed only two games during the regular season and postseason combined, sitting three games away from breaking the top-10 list for Steelheads career games in the ECHL era. Over his 203 Steelheads games, the 6-foot-2 forward owns 41 goals and 85 assists for 125 points with 34 penalty minutes and six power play goals, and his assist total is tied for seventh-most in the Steelheads ECHL era, sharing that ranking with Mark Derlago (’09-’11). White broke the 100-assist mark for his ECHL career on Mar. 6, 2020 with Idaho, and over his 312 career ECHL games he owns 186 points (61-125—186) with 13 power play goals.
“The Mountain Division is one of the best divisions. Being able to be an older guy helped me be part of a group last year that had a lot of younger guys. I’ve always been a guy who’s vocal when I need to be, and I like to lead by example. Being older now and going through all these experiences makes it easy for me to relate to the younger players and help them not fall out of the moment.
“I spent a lot of time with myself [during the pandemic] and learned new ways to have fun. As far as hockey, it was really mentally challenging. It really gave you a mental edge to fall back in love with the game once play began and a little extra motivation to realize how lucky you are to play the game you love.”
“Bringing our captain back to Boise is a great step in building towards the season,” said Sheen on White. “A.J. embodies everything about being a Steelheads player, and we are excited to have him back for another season in Boise.”
Prior to joining the Steelheads, White played his first ECHL season with the Atlanta Gladiators in 2016-17 following his professional debut with the Milwaukee Admirals (AHL) and a stint with the Providence Bruins (AHL). In four collegiate seasons with UMass-Lowell, White boasted 28 goals and 51 assists for 79 points through 153 games over four seasons and was named Captain for his senior season in 2014-15. He helped lead UMass-Lowell to a Hockey East Championship in 2012-13.
“Opening night going to be a lot of fun, especially since there haven’t been full fans at events recently in Boise, and the crowd is going to be electric. There’s going to be a lot of chills just like your first pro game all over again.”
White is the first Steelheads player announced to an ECHL contract for the 2021-22 season. Future announcements and signings will be announced throughout the summer.The Steelheads are back for the 2021-22 season! Season tickets and flex plans are available ahead of the Home Opener on Friday, Oct. 22 against the Utah Grizzlies at Idaho Central Arena. Call the Steelheads Front Office at 208-383-0080 to plan your seats for the return of hockey to Downtown Boise! Stay connected to the Steelheads all summer long on IdahoSteelheads.com or by following the team on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.