BOISE, ID – Captain and striker AJ White is returning to the Idaho Steelheads for his fourth season in Treasure Valley and signs an ECHL Standard Player Contract (SPC) for the 2021-22 season, announced Head Coach and Director of Hockey Operations Everett Sheen on known Monday.
“I’m extremely excited,” White said of returning to the Steelheads. “It’s just a refreshing new start as we couldn’t play last year. I have these exciting nerves that I haven’t gotten lately. “
White, 29, is returning to the Steelheads after playing 60 games with the Utah Grizzlies last season due to the pandemic, scoring 15 goals and 25 assists for 40 points with 18 penalty minutes and nine power play goals. Born in Dearborn, Michigan, he led the Grizzlies in power play goals, finishing third in assists and points and fourth in goals scored. This comes after a performance of 41 points (15-26-41) with the Steelheads in 61 games during the 2019-20 season shortened by the pandemic, when he finished second on the team on assists and points.
This will be the fourth season in Idaho for White, who first joined the organization in the 2017/18 season. During this time he was captain for two consecutive seasons and missed only two games in the regular season and the postseason together. In his 203 Steelheads games, the 6-foot-2 forward scored 41 goals and 85 assists for 125 points with 34 penalty minutes and six power play goals ranking with Mark Derlago (’09 -’11). White cracked the 100 assist mark for his ECHL career with Idaho on March 6, 2020 and has 186 points (61-125-186) with 13 power play goals in his 312 ECHL career games.
“The Mountain Division is one of the best divisions. The opportunity to be an older guy last year helped me be part of a group that had a lot of younger people. I’ve always been the kind of vocal when I have to and I like to lead by example, ‘”said White. “Being older now and having all these experiences makes it easy for me to relate to the younger players and help them keep up with the moment.
“I’ve spent a lot of time with myself [during the pandemic] and learned new ways to have fun. As for hockey, it was really a mental challenge. It really gave you a mental advantage to fall in love with the game again as soon as the game started and a little extra motivation to realize how lucky you are to be playing the game you love. “
“Bringing our captain back to Boise is a big step towards the season,” Sheen said of White. “AJ is everything a Steelheads player is all about and we look forward to having him back for another season in Boise.”
Before White joined the Steelheads, he played his first ECHL season with the Atlanta Gladiators in 2016/17, after making his professional debut with the Milwaukee Admirals (AHL) and a time with the Providence Bruins (AHL). In four college seasons with UMass-Lowell, White scored 28 goals and 51 assists for 79 points in 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 from 2012-13.
“Opening night is going to be a lot of fun, especially since there haven’t been crowds at events in Boise lately and the crowd is getting electrified,” said White. “There will be a lot of chills, just like your first professional game.”
White is the first Steelheads player to be awarded an ECHL contract for the 2021/22 season. Future announcements and signings will be announced later this summer.
The Steelheads are back for the 2021/22 season. Season passes and flex plans are available for purchase ahead of the Home Opener on Friday, October 22nd against the Utah Grizzlies at Idaho Central Arena.
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