BOISE, Idaho (CBS2) —
Following the deadly mass shooting at a mall in Allen, Texas, the Steelheads and the Americans are preparing for the rest of their playoff series, keeping the more important issue firmly in mind.
After eight people, including the shooter, died in Allen Saturday, the Steelheads game against the Americans was postponed. It was the second game of a best-of-seven series; Idaho won game 1 the night prior.
The shooting took place at Allen Premium Outlets, less than a mile from the American's Arena, and in close proximity to the Steelheads' hotel. Steelheads forward Jordan Kawaguchi noted that several teammates had been inside the mall the day prior. He mentioned that the mall was a frequent stop for the team whenever they came to play Allen, due to its walkable distance to their hotel.
The series was adjusted by the ECHL, with game 2 moving to Boise, and a potential game 6 moving to Allen. The series also was forced to condense due to the postponement, meaning that the teams could face off against each other six times in eight days, were the series to progress to a game 7.
Steelheads players and coaches spoke to the media for the first time following the shooting, noting the mental impact it had.
"You don't ever want to see that, and some things are bigger than hockey," head coach Everett Sheen said. "We may be foes on the ice, but we have their back off the ice and in solidarity with them, for sure."
Kawaguchi also mentioned that teammates had been at the mall the previous day,
"You know, something like that happens, it's hard to really play a hockey game, so we were happy that it got postponed a little bit," Kawaguchi said. "Obviously, mentally it's a tough situation. You can't really say anything about it because you really just don't think about that ahead of time."
Before the puck drops for game 2 Wednesday night, the Steelheads will have a tribute to honor the victims. Exact details have not been finalized.
Both teams will feature 'Allen Strong' stickers on their helmets for game 2. Allen showed the stickers on their helmets in a Twitter post, and Sheen confirmed that the Steelheads would also have them.
As the players prepare to return to the playoffs, Kawaguchi and Sheen noted the challenge and mental toughness it will take. Sheen mentioned that the team had talked about the shooting, and said that the team had worked to reset and refocus for the rest of the series.
"Well we took a couple days off," Sheen said. "We've talked about it as a group and kind of reset. Thankfully, none of our group was injured or in the face of danger. The guys were a little shook up being in that experience but we've talked about it and regrouped. We ultimately don't want to go back to Allen so we've got to get our focus on this week here."
The Steelheads face the Americans tomorrow in Boise, for game 2 of the Mountain Division Finals. Puck drop is 7:10 p.m.