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Forward Will Merchant Re-Joins Steelheads for Fifth Season

Wednesday, August 4th
Forward Will Merchant Re-Joins Steelheads for Fifth Season

BOISE, Idaho – Forward Will Merchant has signed an ECHL Standard Player Contract (SPC) for the 2021-22 season, joining the Idaho Steelheads for a fifth season, Head Coach and Director of Hockey Operations Everett Sheen announced on Wednesday.“With the large amount of time off, I’ve spent a lot of time with fans and season ticket holders at work and at the gym I work out at,” said Merchant. “Every single time I see them, they tell me how excited they are for that first game. I think we’re going to have a great showing this year, but I think there’s going to be even more excitement in Boise to get another year going.”

Merchant, 27, skated in 61 games for the Steelheads during the pandemic-shortened 2019-20 season, tallying 18 goals and 18 assists for 36 points with 49 penalty minutes, a plus-nine rating and five power play goals, ranking in the top-four in all major scoring categories and specifically second in goals scored and power play goals. The Eagan, Minn. product has played in Idaho during all four of his professional seasons with a 57-game stint during the 2018-19 season in Greenville, posting 159 points (70-89—159) through 270 games with 148 penalty minutes since his debut during the 2016-17 in Idaho. He owns at least 14 goals and 30 points in all four seasons.Merchant enters the 2021-22 season in good company historically for his career, sitting in the top-10 all-time in three Steelheads ECHL categories. His 60 goals puts him fifth all-time, now 17 tallies behind forward Jefferson Dahl (’14-’18, ’19-’20), and his 137 points is eighth all-time, only seven points from forward Scott Burt (’03-’07) as well as 11 points from forward Rob Linsmayer (’12-’17). The final game of the 2019-20 season moved him to seventh all-time in games played at 213, now just 17 games behind forward Lance Galbraith (’03-’05, ’06-’08). In 213 games with the Steelheads, the 6-foot-1 forward owns 137 points (60-77—137). He elected not to play during the 2020-21 season.

“With everything going on, I didn’t really feel like going anywhere else and playing. I’ve been a Steelheads player for almost my whole professional career, and that’s where I wanted to play. I was more willing to stay around the area and figure out what I wanted to do. In the end, I knew I wanted to play hockey a little bit longer, so I took the time off to recover the body and get the mind right to get excited for another season.

“Two years ago, I had a great season, and we had a really good team which helped everyone out. That year, I slowly made myself more of a leader, and that’s something I want to bring into this season. I want to be more vocal off the ice and continue to do the right things on the ice.”

“Will is the longest-tenured Steelie on the roster, and he brings a wealth of experience to our lineup,” said Sheen on the return of Merchant. “We’re looking for him to take a big step this year and be a great leader for us.”

Prior to his professional career, Merchant played four seasons with the University of Maine, posting 22 goals and 17 assists for 39 points through 136 games, including 22 points (13-9—22) through 36 games during his senior campaign in 2015-16 while serving as an assistant captain that season. He was a three-time Hockey East All-Academic selection and two-time Maine Scholar Athlete award winner.“Taking a year off has made me more excited to come back and play hockey,” Merchant added. “That extra time away from the game and the way everything finished a couple years—I had a lot of hope for that season—I’m very eager to get that start going again for this year.”

Merchant is the second Steelheads player announced to an ECHL contract for the 2021-22 season, joining A.J. White, who was announced on Monday. Future announcements and signings will be announced throughout the summer, and you can follow who’s been added on the team’s Summer Signing Tracker.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.

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