BOISE, Idaho – Forward Conner Bleackley has agreed to terms with the Idaho Steelheads for the 2019-20 season, joining the organization for his fourth professional season, Head Coach and Director of Hockey Operations Everett Sheen announced Tuesday.
“It was a long summer for me thinking about what I want and where I want to be,” said Bleackley. “A few weeks ago, it came up that Idaho was a real possibility. I talked with some guys who had played there before, and I remember the time I spent there and loved it. It just made sense, and I’m really excited about the city, the organization, the coach, and the players on the team.”
Bleackley (pronounced BLEEK-lee), 23, played 57 games with the San Antonio Rampage during the 2018-19 season, posting five goals and 11 assists for 16 points with 35 penalty minutes. The High River, Alb. native made his professional debut with the Chicago Wolves in the 2016-17 season, playing 122 games since his debut and owning eight goals and 20 assists for 28 points at the AHL level. He also played 54 games between the Missouri Mavericks (2016-17) and Tulsa Oilers (2017-18), boasting 26 goals and 29 assists for 55 points with six power play goals and three shorthanded goals.
The 6-foot, 199-pound forward has built close ties to the Steelheads organization in the past, including prominent players on last year’s team. Bleackley played with returning forward Kyle Schempp with the Mavericks, has had passing with another Alberta native in Mitch Moroz, and became good friends with forward Kale Kessy while playing alongside each other in Tulsa. Those ties, to name a few, all helped shape the culture and image of the city of Boise and the Steelheads organization that convinced Bleackley that Idaho was the correct destination.
“I remember going to Boise with Tulsa for six days and saying, ‘Man, this city is awesome. The food, the downtown, the atmosphere.’ Then, Kale decided to sign in Boise—and he could have gone anywhere in the league—and he said, ‘This is the most fun I’ve ever had.’
“I talked to Mitch Moroz, and when he was in Boise he said that this is the most fun he’s had playing hockey, and that’s coming from someone who won a Memorial Cup and was in the Oil Kings organization. That tells you everything you need to know about hockey in Boise.”
“Conner is a very skilled forward who has proven to be productive at our level time and time again,” said Sheen. “Coming off a good season in the American League, he is hungry to get off to a quick start and prove himself here in Boise. We are ecstatic to have a forward of his caliber join our club.”
Prior to his professional career, Bleackley played five seasons with the Red Deer Rebels from 2011-16, tallying 80 goals and 103 assists for 183 points through 259 games while serving as captain for his final three seasons. He also participated in the 2014 IIHF U18 World Junior Championships and 2013 U17 World Hockey Challenge, and he was also named an assistant captain for both events for Team Canada. He was drafted 23rd overall (1st Round) by the Colorado Avalanche in the 2014 NHL Draft then selected 144th overall (5th Round) by the St. Louis Blues in the 2016 NHL Draft.
Bleackley is the 11th forward to be announced this summer as well as the 11th player named with prior AHL experience. The Steelheads have announced 17 skaters ahead of 2019 Training Camp.
Forwards (11): Zack Andrusiak (rookie), Conner Bleackley, Max Coatta (rookie), Freddy Gerard (rookie), Matt Lippa (rookie), Will Merchant, Mitch Moroz (Asst. Captain), Spencer Naas, Marc-Olivier Roy, Kyle Schempp, A.J. White (Captain)
Defense (6): Nolan Gluchowski, Keegan Kanzig (Asst. Captain), Jeff King, Brady Norrish, Colton Saucerman, Eric Sweetman
Future player announcements will be made at a later date.
“I love to play with the puck,” said Bleackley. “If you’re watching me play, you’re going to see me with the puck a lot and hopefully score a lot of goals. I love when the game gets on the line, and I want the puck on my stick at those times of the game. I’m excited because I think we have a good team, and we’re going to be able to do a lot of good things this year.
“I’m thrilled to have a good organization that wants me, and I’m ready to play.”
The Steelheads return to CenturyLink Arena on Friday, Oct. 18 for the 2019-20 Home Opener against the Wichita Thunder. Season tickets and flex plans for the 2019-20 season are now available! Call the Steelheads Front Office at 208-383-0080 to plan your seats for next season. Stay connected to the Steelheads throughout the summer on idahosteelheads.com or by following the team on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.