The Idaho Junior Steelheads have won the last two Thorne Cup championships in the Western States Hockey League.
This past season, the Steelheads knocked off the Dallas Ice Jets for the championship. They earned a 3-2 win in the first game and grinded out a 6-5 overtime victory in the finale.
Building on that kind of success is not easy and head coach John Olver is doing what he can to put his team in position to contend for another title. The Jr. Steelheads begin their 2012-13 regular season with a two-game stand against the Seattle Jr. Totems on Sept. 28-29 at their home Manchester Ice and Events Centre in McCall, Idaho.
â€œWe only return seven players, so we had to do a lot of recruiting in the offseason,â€ Olver said. â€œItâ€™s been a very busy summer. We have been to a lot of camps and we feel like we were successful with the recruiting process. Only time will tell.â€
What Olver does know is that when a franchise has success, players want to be a part of it and are willing to embrace the high expectations that come with it.
â€œPlayers want to be on successful teams and have a chance to win a championship,â€ Olver said. â€œThey want to follow in the tradition of past teams. It gets tougher to do each year because every team wants to knock you off. We have to be ready to go every time we step out on the ice.â€
The key to maintaining the success is linked to bringing in the right players. Olver said he has about seven or eight players from Europe that have the potential to make an impact this season.
â€œThey could be our X-factor players,â€ Olver said. â€œThey have the skills to be very good players. Itâ€™s just a matter of doing it in this league. Our goal is to bring in players who have the talent to play at this level and the work ethic to succeed here. If players work hard, good things will happen.â€