Dallas Stars General Manager Jim Nill announced today that the club has extended its affiliation agreement with the Idaho Steelheads of the ECHL for the 2013-14 season. This will be the ninth season in a row, and the 10th overall that the Stars organization has partnered with the Steelheads. Idaho was affiliated with the Phoenix Coyotes for one season in 2004-05 but the team has spent the rest of its ECHL history working with the Stars, making it one of the longest continuous affiliations in the ECHL.
"Developing hockey players is one of the most important functions we have as an organization," said Nill. "The Idaho Steelheads are a big part of that development process and we look forward to continuing our partnership with them this upcoming season."
The Idaho Steelheads finished with the third-best regular season record in the Western Conference last season, earning a 45-20-7 record, good for 97 points in the standings. Idaho's 45 victories was the second-most for the club in their ECHL tenure. The team also advanced to the Western Conference Final in the ECHL playoffs before losing to the Stockton Thunder.
Dallas Stars draftee, and Dallas native, Austin Smith led the Steelheads with 27 goals and also paced the club in overall points (27G-23A-50PTS). Other Stars prospects to skate for Idaho in 2012-13 include Tristan King, Jace Coyle, Mathieu Tousignant, Hubert Labrie, and Tyler Beskorowany.
The Idaho Steelheads play at the 5,006-seat CenturyLink Arena, which opened in downtown Boise in 1997, and played host to over 165,000 fans last season.Considered the premier "AA" hockey league in North America, in 2012-13 the ECHL had affiliations with 27 of the 30 teams in the National Hockey League. Additionally, the ECHL also had affiliations with 27 of the 30 teams in the American Hockey League, creating a true minor league system where players can be promoted within the given parent organization.