Boise, Idaho – The Idaho Steelheads announced Saturday night that Brad Ralph has been hired as the team’s Head Coach and Director of Hockey Operations, making him the sixth head coach since the team’s inception in 1997.
Ralph, 31, replaces Hardy Sauter, whose contract was not renewed at the end of the 2011-12 season. He comes to Idaho from the Augusta RiverHawks of the Southern Professional Hockey League.
“Brad really won us over with his organization and his attention to detail,” Steelheads’ President Eric Trapp said. “There was a strong pool of candidates, but we’re confident that we’ve selected the right man to get us back to where we belong, among the ECHL’s elite teams.”
In two seasons as the head coach in Augusta, Ralph’s teams were 71-33-8. He was named the league’s Coach of the Year in 2011 following his first season as a head coach and nearly captured a second consecutive award this season, just missing out in one of the closest votes in SPHL history, after his team led the SPHL with a 36-13-7 record.
“The opportunity to coach for a winning, first-class organization like Idaho is a great reward for me,” Ralph said. “I’ll be forever grateful to the Augusta RiverHawks for giving me my first opportunity as a head coach, I learned a lot about the hockey side and business side of coaching because of the RiverHawks.”
Ralph played professional hockey from 2000 to 2009, skating in the ECHL, American Hockey League, and playing one game for the NHL’s Phoenix Coyotes during the 2000-01 season. He also spent time playing professionally overseas, playing one season in Italy and one season in Denmark. He posted career-best 53-point seasons in 2004-05 and 2006-07 as a member of the Columbia Inferno of the ECHL. A well-rounded forward as a player, Ralph was named the Defensive Player of the Year for the AHL’s Springfield Falcons in 2001 and the Offensive Player of the Year for the Inferno in 2005.
During his final pro season, 2008-09, he doubled as a player and assistant coach for the Charlotte Checkers. He was a second-round NHL draft pick of the Coyotes in 1999 and played major-junior hockey for the Oshawa Generals of the Ontario Hockey League.
Ralph, from Richmond, Ontario, is married (Wendy) and has one daughter. Born in 1980, Ralph is the youngest head coach in Idaho Steelheads’ history, spanning two leagues and fifteen complete seasons. He and his family will relocate to Boise full-time this summer.