When ECHL Hockey Heritage Weekend presented by CCM was announced in October, no one would have ever thought that the weekend would have ended up helping the eventual Iditarod champion five months later. But, that indeed was the case for 2014 champion Dallas Seavey.
As part of the weekend’s festivities, the League invited sponsors and VIPs to participate in a dog-sledding excursion, and to have Seavey bring the Stanley Cup onto the ice by dog sled during the pre-game ceremony of the February 7 game.
Originally, CCM’s J.C. Ihrig was scheduled to participate in the half-day dog-sledding trip, however, at the last minute a change was made that necessitated Ihrig to take the full-day trip, which was led by Seavey.
“I was literally on the phone 15 minutes before the bus arrived with Salmon Berry Tours to confirm the changed itinerary,” said ECHL Senior Vice President of Business Operations Ryan Crelin. “We didn’t know the relationship that was about to be forged.”
As part of the full-day trip, Ihrig received a tour of the kennel and discovered that a new sled that Seavey was building was being made with hockey sticks.
“It was a fortunate meeting,” Seavey said. “We hit it off pretty quick and we’ve spoken several times since.”
Ihrig was amazed by the circumstances, and offered to send additional sticks to help finish the sled, as well as a “carry-sled” which was built by Seavey to carry his lead dog for the early part of the Iditarod.
“It’s great meeting like-minded people who enjoying doing things right, and its been an on-going relationship to get better,” said Seavey. “ Just like trying to maximize results on the ice, we are trying to do the same things on the trail, in this case producing a lighter, stronger and faster sled.”
Once he received the additional sticks from Ihrig, Seavey spent day and night in the week leading up to the race trying to build the Reebok/CCM sled for this year’s event.
“Dallas is all about understanding flex and the geometry of the shaft and how that will help him make a better sled, just like the players looking to improve their shot,” Ihrig said.
“After speaking with J.C., I have a much better understanding of carbon fiber and how to maximize its strength,” Seavey said. “I was one of only a few racers to utilize only one sled throughout the whole race.”
The support from Ihirg and CCM paid off for Seavey. After being as far back as 13th place during the early stages of the race, he was able to rally and ended up winning the 2014 Iditarod title with his CCM/Reebok sled.
“It was awesome to play even a very small part in the amazing accomplishment that Dallas and his amazing team of dogs achieved at the Iditarod,” Ihrig said. “What an awesome display of talent and courage. I am hooked on the Iditarod for life!”
“In a race where the victory of over 1,000 miles is separated by only 2 minutes and 22 seconds, every little bit helps to lighten the load,” Seavey said.