Just days after Brad Ralph stunned the Steelheads fan base and left for a job with the Kelowna Rockets of the Western Hockey League in Canada, the team has announced Ralph’s replacement.
It is Neil Graham, who has served as the team’s assistant coach for the past two seasons. At 30 years old, Graham becomes the youngest coach in the ECHL.
Part of his duties for the past two seasons was to run the defense and penalty-kill units. Both groups ranked in the top five in the ECHL last season, as Idaho allowed just 2.6 goals per game (ranked 5th in ECHL) and successfully killed off 86 percent of the penalties it faced (4th).
“I’m extremely excited for this opportunity,” Graham said. “We have a lot of good players coming back and coming in, so I’m excited to get to work. My wife and I call Boise home, the community has really embraced us and I’m ready to put together a team that will represent it as well as it has for the past two decades.”
Graham becomes the fifth head coach during Idaho’s ECHL tenure and seventh overall since pro hockey arrived in Idaho in 1997.
“We’re very happy that Neil has stayed on-board and become our Head Coach,” team President Eric Trapp said. “We had a lot of interest in the position but we quickly decided that Neil was the best fit for us. He’s been involved in all avenues of coaching at this level, from budgeting to recruiting to on-ice, we’re excited to keep the program moving forward and we expect him to be very successful as the Head Coach.”