Three Stars Of The ECHL: Idaho Steelheads

There have been many players who have put on a Steelheads sweater over the course of the last 22 years. All of these players have helped the Steelheads successfully make it to the playoffs. The number of players who should also be on this list is extensive, but three had to be chosen and I selected three players who played a full season at least with the Idaho Steelheads.   

Alex Belzile

Belzile, 29, was chosen for this because his story should be proof that at some point, hard work and perseverance can help you in achieving your dreams. Though he only played a single season for the Idaho Steelheads, his journey through the ranks of pro hockey is proof that determination and hard work and not giving up can pay off.

The six-foot, 192-pound forward made his debut in the ECHL back in 2012 with the Gwinnett Gladiators. Throughout his ECHL career, Belzile also played for the Alaska Aces, Fort Wayne Komets and Colorado Eagles. During this lengthy tenure, he skated in 168 games, recording 62 goals and 107 assists. He did so through a four-year span while being named twice as a Kelly Cup Champion.

His play in the ECHL provided Belzile with the opportunity to play six seasons in the AHL. There, he played 239 games with the San Antonio Rampage, Hamilton Bulldogs and Laval Rocket. While bouncing back often between the ECHL and AHL, Belzile scored 54 goals along with 78 assists before getting called up.

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His determination and hard work in the ECHL and AHL allowed for Belzile to don the sweater of his childhood team, the Montreal Canadiens. This was after a combined 207 games played between the two leagues.

Now in the NHL, Belzile became the first player in Canadiens history to make his NHL debut and score his first point in a postseason games. He did so on August 7th against the Pittsburgh Penguins in game four of the play-in round. After his debut, Max Domi sent out a tweet with regards to the winger from Quebec that read, “168 games in the ECHL. 239 AHL games. Turning 29 in 3 weeks. Alex Belzile just played his first NHL game for his childhood team. One of the best guys and hardest working guys I’ve had the pleasure of playing with. Congrats brother! Love ya. @Belz_63 #nevergiveup.”

When asked about the right-handed shooter making his first appearance in the NHL, Kirk Muller said of the forward’s achievements, “That’s pretty cool. That’s perseverance at its best. You know what was great is the players addressed it at our team meeting and had him stand up and they brought it to the attention. Imagine his career path and it’s a lesson for kids out there.  It’s not always a perfect, rosy way to the NHL. He’s been in different leagues, it hasn’t been easy. But now he’s 28 years old, playing in his first playoff series, gets his first point in the NHL. It’s a good story.”

Marty Flichel

Marty Flichel is one of three former Steelheads to have his number retired by the team. When you walk into Century Link Arena, forever will there be a Flichel #16 signed banner hanging on the wall. Flichel, a right-shooting winger from Hodgeville, SK, played 436 games over nine seasons spanned with the Steelheads hockey club. This includes eight in the ECHL and one when they were members of the WCHL.

Throughout the course of his tenure in Idaho, the former Dallas seventh-round pick recorded 148 goals along with 260 assists. He amassed these totals for 408 points. While with the organization, Flichel also skated in 69 playoff games. Through those postseason games, the right-winger scored 21 goals along with 34 assists for 55 points.

During the 2006-07 season, Flichel was selected as an ECHL First Team All-Star. He also hoisted the Kelly Cup after he helped the Steelheads to win the championship. To cap off his career where he led as team captain for four seasons, Flichel was selected numerous times for the ECHL All-Decade Team. During his tenure in Idaho, Flichel also secured his spot as franchise leader in goals, assists and total points. He also led the team in games played.

Idaho Steelheads/ECHL

Tomas Sholl

 Sholl, from Hermosa Beach, California, is the most recent of the team’s three stars. Sholl, who is playing overseas in Slovakia, had an impressive ECHL career while playing eight seasons with the Idaho Steelheads. Sholl made his debut with the team in 2017-18, loaned from the SPHL.

When Sholl first arrived in Idaho, he almost instantly became a fan favourite. During his time with the Steelheads, Sholl recorded 63 goals along with 20 assists in 105 games. He also racked up a total of 5,467 minutes in between the pipes. Sholl earned 12 shutout in Idaho while stopping 2,482 shots on goal.

While a member of the Steelheads, Sholl was selected seven times as the ECHL Goaltender of the Week. Additionally, he was named on three occasions as goalie of the month. The American also earned a spot on the ECHL All-Rookie Team in 2018-19. With the league’s best save percentage at .928, Sholl also made an appearance on the ECHL’s Second All-Star Team.

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During the 2019-20 season, Sholl was named recipient of the ECHL Goaltender of the Year honours. He did so with the best GAA in the ECHL of 2.14. For this, he was named to the All-Star Team and the All-ECHL First Team. The backstop was also selected as the Co-MVP on the Idaho Steelheads.

Prior to his ECHL debut, Sholl played for the Macon Mayhem and Evansville Thunderbolts in the SPHL. During the tenure he split there, Sholl appeared in 20 games and racked up a record of 14-3-3. He collected 1,212 minutes while blocking a total of 562 shots.

Thanks to the time he spent there, Sholl saw his play rewarded with a pair of honours. This included having been named to the league’s All Rookie Team and Second All-Star Team. He also earned a goals against average of 2.53, an SPHL best.

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Though this feature only highlights three players, there are countless former Steelheads that could’ve also made this list. Jay Beagle, Jack Campbell, Jefferson Dahl, Scott Burt, Jeremy Mylmok and Cal Ingraham are a few of the many that could have easily been on this list. It was fun looking back at some players that have come into Boise, Idaho to play for the Steelheads. I can’t wait to continue adding names that could be on this list in the years to come.

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