BOISE, Idaho – Forward Spencer Naas has agreed to terms with the Idaho Steelheads for the 2019-20 season, joining the organization for his second full professional season, Head Coach and Director of Hockey Operations Everett Sheen announced Tuesday.
“I know we’ve got quite a bit of guys back from last year’s team, and we had quite a good year and are trying to build on it,” said Naas. “It was a pretty easy decision when it came down to it. I’m really excited to be back.”
Naas, 24, played 55 games with the Steelheads in his rookie season last year, posting 18 goals and nine assists for 27 points with one shorthanded goal. The St. Louis Park, Minn. native also appeared in 10 games with the Texas Stars (AHL) during the 2018-19 campaign. He made his ECHL debut on October 12 in Wichita and scored his first ECHL goal two days later on October 14 in Tulsa. He also recorded his first multi-goal game with the Steelheads on March 19 in Orlando.
The 5-foot-11, 185-pound forward showcased his scoring ability throughout the season and was one of the team’s overall leaders, finishing the season with the fifth-most goals on the Steelheads and second among Steelheads rookies. That prowess drew the attention of multiple teams, but Naas noted that the familiarity with the Steelheads and the shared values between players and coaches tipped the scales to return to the Treasure Valley for his second season.
“Talking with Sheener over the summer, we were on the same page: we thought the same things and had the same goals both for myself and the team as a whole. When it came down to it, I’ve been talking to a lot of other teams, but I had the most familiarity with the guys and fans in Idaho, and I thought it’d be a good fit to come back.
“I can’t imagine there are many places in the league that get better fan support. I’m really excited to be back for the fans.”
“Getting Spencer back is a huge boost for us,” said Sheen. “He had a very good rookie campaign and is hungry to build off of it. His speed, his tenacity and his shot are elite. We’re looking for him to be a big piece for us this year.”
Prior to joining the Steelheads, Naas made his professional debut with the Cleveland Monsters (AHL) following his final collegiate season in 2017-18, boasting four goals and three assists for seven points through 12 games while scoring in his professional debut on Mar. 24, 2018. He played four seasons at the University of Connecticut where he was a two-year assistant captain and led the Huskies in goals during his senior season. He also owns the second-most goals by a rookie in Huskies history and was named a 2018 Hockey East Honorable Mention. He garnered 77 points (49g, 28a) through 143 games in his collegiate career.
Naas is the 10th returning player announced by the Steelheads from the 2018-19 season and the fifth as a forward. The Steelheads now have 15 players rostered ahead of training camp.
Forwards (10): Zack Andrusiak (rookie), 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 (5): Nolan Gluchowski, Keegan Kanzig (Asst. Captain), Jeff King, Colton Saucerman, Eric Sweetman
Future player announcements will be made at a later date.
“I just think we have a really talented group,” said Naas. “That’s exciting, and as a player you want to win. We’re going to have a great chance to be successful this year. Winning is the main goal, and I think we’re going to have a team that’s capable of doing something special.”
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.