Cal Ingraham spent four seasons as a hockey legend from his right wing position for the Idaho Steelheads, leading the Treasure Valley’s minor league team in scoring year after year. His No. 22 jersey hangs high above the ice inside CenturyLink Arena, never to be worn again.
It has been 12 years since Ingraham stepped off the ice for the last time as a Steelhead, but he’s back, donning a new color scheme.
Ingraham is entering his third season as head coach of the Boise State hockey club, who open their 2013-14 season against the University of Washington on Oct. 4 at CenturyLink Arena. He scored 175 goals during his four seasons with the Steelheads, becoming the most prolific scorer in Steelheads history.
The Broncos are entering their first season in the newly formed Mountain West Collegiate Hockey League, with the championship tournament taking place in February. Boise State joins Brigham Young, Denver, Montana State, Montana Tech, Utah State and Weber State in the six-team, independent conference within the American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA).
Boise State joined the conference in an effort to have a clearer path to regional and national championships. Conference presidents are considering expansion to 10 teams following this season.
“Obviously we’re in a new league this year, so the goal is to win that,” Ingraham said. “Get the exposure, and some day play in a national tournament.”
Over the last two years, Bronco hockey has been recognized as one of the most outstanding club teams at Boise State, and in the nation. Boise State was awarded the ACHA Community Service Award in 2012 in the Division 2 classification out of 185 teams, and was deemed Club of the Year by the university for the 2011-12 season.
Ingraham was awarded Club Coach of the Year in 2011-12 as well.
Even with all of the success Ingraham has experienced over the last two seasons, the Broncos still have substantial room to improve, according to the former sniper.
“We had a better year last year, and I fully expect to have an even better year this year with some of the guys that have come in here,” Ingraham said.
Boise State’s accomplishments on the ice don’t come without any costs, however. Each Boise State hockey club player pays $1,200 each season to play, and the university only matches up to $7,000 in funds each season. Student athletes participating in club sports do not receive any athletic scholarships, and all educational fees are paid through grants or out-of-pocket.
Despite the financial commitment, players like sophomore Jorgen Vaage value every minute of ice time.
“It comes down to that Boise State gives us the opportunity to play hockey for a well put together program at a collegiate level,” Vaage said.
Boise State opening game against Washington starts at 7 p.m. at CentruyLink Arena on Friday, Oct. 4.