The Dallas Stars announced today that the club has signed a two-year extension to its affiliate agreement with the Idaho Steelheads of the ECHL. The club won the 2007 Patrick J. Kelly Cup as champions of the ECHL, and also won the league title as a development affiliate of the Dallas Stars during the club’s inaugural season of 2003-04.
“We are happy to continue our affiliation with Idaho and we are expecting continued success for the Steelheads,” Dallas Stars General Manager Doug Armstrong said. “Idaho has done an excellent job as a development affiliate for the Dallas Stars, and together with Iowa in the American Hockey League, we should continue to have a solid, coordinated partnership.”
Considered the premier “AA” hockey league in North America, the ECHL has affiliations with 26 of the 30 teams in the National Hockey League. Additionally, the ECHL has affiliations with 25 of the 27 teams in the American Hockey League, creating a true minor league system where players can be promoted within the given parent organization.
“The Dallas Stars are an extraordinary organization to be affiliated with,” said Steelheads Head Coach Derek Laxdal. He added, “Dallas and Iowa haven proven in two ECHL championship runs that they’re committed to and focused on developing the best young players in their system. We’re extremely pleased to renew our partnership and look forward to working with the talented young Dallas prospects.”
The Idaho Steelheads play at the 5,006-seat Qwest Arena, which opened in downtown Boise in 1997, and the club played host to over 178,000 fans at their home games last season. During a one-year hiatus from their affiliation with Dallas in 2004-05, Idaho served as an affiliate of the NHL Phoenix Coyotes and AHL Utah Grizzlies.
Head Coach Derek Laxdal led Idaho to a regular season record of 42-24-6 last season, and the club entered the ECHL Playoffs as the National Conference’s fourth-seed. Idaho defeated Stockton, Las Vegas and Alaska en route to the National Conference crown, and then topped Dayton in five games to capture their second Kelly Cup in four years. The Steelheads are just the fourth team to win multiple ECHL crowns in the league’s 19 seasons.
The Iowa Stars also had a successful campaign in the American Hockey League in 2006-07, posting a 42-34-3-1 record and reaching the Calder Cup Playoffs as the West Division’s fourth-seed. The club topped the top-seeded Omaha Knights in six games in the first round, the first playoff series victory in franchise history, before falling in six games to the Chicago Wolves.
The Iowa Stars, led by Head Coach Dave Allison, Assistant Coach Paul Jerrard and Director of Hockey Operations Scott White, have reached the AHL Playoffs in each of their two years of existence and play their games at the 15,181-seat Wells Fargo Arena in downtown Des Moines.
For more information about the Idaho Steelheads, please visit the club’s website at www.idahosteelheads.com. For information about AHL Iowa Stars, please visit the club online at www.iowastarshockey.com.