BOISE — At one point, goaltender Tomas Sholl was facing a line which featured Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin and Joe Pavelski.
Combined, the three Dallas Stars forwards have 898 career NHL goals, 1,097 assists and 10 All-Star Game selections.
Unfazed, Sholl made the stop on a Seguin shot.
“I was like ‘wow that was pretty cool,’” Sholl said. “‘I just made a one-timer save on Tyler Seguin.’ That was pretty fun.”
That was one of many unique opportunities for the Idaho Steelhead goaltender during a whirlwind offseason, which saw Sholl sign an AHL contract with the Texas Stars and then got the opportunity to participate in an NHL training camp with the parent club, the Dallas Stars.
With a logjam of goaltenders currently at the AHL level, Sholl and Colton Point were both sent down to the ECHL Steeleheads to start the season.
But having a chance to see what life is like at the next level has Sholl excited about the chance to return. And he’s hoping with some strong play in net in Idaho, he will be ready should he get called back up to Texas.
Idaho plays a pair of exhibition games against the Utah Grizzlies this weekend — today in West Valley City, Utah and Saturday at CenturyLink Arena — before opening the regular season next weekend with two road games in Utah.
“Whatever happens up there while I’m down here is completely out of my control,” said Sholl. “But what happens here is within my control. When I’m in Idaho, my only mindset is I want to win games here, play the best hockey I can play. I think if I do that, if I get a chance, I’ll be ready.”
In his rookie season last year, Sholl certainly won a lot of games for Idaho. He finished the year with a 26-12-1 record in net and was third in the ECHL with a 2.25 goals-against average. His .928 save percentage was tops in the league.
“Last year, every time he came to the bench, he had something positive to say and something to work on,” said Steelheads captain A.J. White. “Once he got down here, he’s already taken some things into his own hands, helping the guys out here and there. That’s what we need out of a guy like him.”
His effort last season was rewarded in the offseason with a contract from the Steelheads’ AHL affiliate. He signed on with Texas early in the summer, and said that getting that decision out of the way allowed him to spend most of the offseason focusing on training. He also got an invite to participate in the Dallas Stars’ training camp last month in Frisco, Texas.
“It was good to be recognized for the success and be able to get a contract in the AHL and kind of continue moving upward,” Sholl said. “Obviously, anytime you get a chance to play at an NHL level, at an NHL camp, it was really exciting for me.”
But it was no secret that there was no shortage in the organization for AHL goaltenders. In addition to Sholl and Point, a 2016 fifth-round pick by the Dallas Stars, Texas also has goaltenders Landon Bow, a former Steelhead who spent some time in the NHL last season, and Jake Oettinger, Dallas’s 2017 first-round pick who made his professional debut late last season with Texas.
It was clear from the start that two of those four were going to get sent down.
That was part of the reason Idaho didn’t have a goaltender on its roster until a couple days before training camp began. The Steelheads also added Austin Lotz, a fourth-year ECHL player who spent time with the Reading Royals and Brampton Beast last season.
“Right from the get go, we knew we were going to get two, it was just a matter of what two,” said Idaho coach Everett Sheen. “So that’s why we held off. We added Austin Lotz there for a third, just to keep everyone healthy and good, see what he brings to the table and give him a fair shot.”
Sholl admits that it is a little disappointing not to be playing in the AHL, but knew all throughout the preseason that being sent down was a possibility.
But by staying in the same organization that he played in last year, in being sent down he comes back to a place where he shined last season.
“That’s the good thing about having a place like Boise to come home to,” Sholl said. “You know when you get sent down, you’re going to a place that feels like home, that feels like family. So it’s a double-edged sword. You want to be playing at the highest level, but if you’re here, it’s a great place to be.”