Rookies Scoran, Wight Anchor Idaho Defense

By Chris Langrill
The Idaho Statesman

BOISE, Idaho – Idaho Steelheads rookies Kory Scoran and Travis Wight prove that good defensemen come in all shapes and sizes.

Both players get the job done in their own way.

Scoran, a 6-foot-3, 220-pounder, is one of the biggest players on the team and is a physical presence on the ice, especially of late.

Wight is 5-10, 195 pounds and relies more on his speed — and his sometimes unorthodox style — to keep the puck out of the net.

“(Scoran’s) a lot bigger than me,” said Wight, a University of Maine product who played in the Frozen Four last season. “He’s kind of bigger, stronger and I’m kind of smaller, quicker. But those are our strengths and we use them with the same goal in mind. But, yeah, we do play different.”

Despite their differences, they have one common trait: They have become mainstays of the Idaho defense. Wight has played 65 games, more than any other Steelhead, and Scoran has played in 62 games. The only other defenseman to reach the 60-game plateau is veteran Darrell Hay.

Their season continues this weekend at Qwest Arena, when they play their final two regular-season home games. Idaho plays three road games before the playoffs begin.

Steelheads coach Derek Laxdal said he knows he has two keepers in Scoran and Wight — the kind of players he hopes will stick around Idaho for a couple of years.

“That’s the difference between winning and losing, having these guys, these character guys like the Kory Scorans and Travis Wights in your lineup,” Laxdal said.

Neither one gets to spend much time in the limelight, however. While forwards such as Marty Flichel and Derek Nesbitt get recognized for putting up impressive offensive numbers, Scoran and Wight toil in relative obscurity.

“We try to keep the puck out of the net instead of putting it in,” Wight said. “It’s not recognized as much, but we’ve both been those kind of players our whole careers, so it’s nothing new.”

Scoran has been a little more noticeable to Steelheads fans in recent series, however.

“The last month and a bit, I’ve tried to step up my physical game,” said Scoran, who played four years at Lake Superior State. “I think I play a lot better when I’m more physical.”

“He is just throwing guys around right now, and I love watching him,” Wight said.

Besides, Scoran figures a good, clean hit is one way for a big defenseman to garner some attention.

“I’m not going to score all the goals, so I can make some big hits every once in a while and the crowd will notice me,” he said.

He’s not just being modest about goal scoring, either. He has one goal as a pro. Wight scored a goal Wednesday night against Long Beach to earn bragging rights over Scoran: He has two professional goals.

But that statistic isn’t the one that’s most important to Wight. More important is his plus/minus ratio (goals for vs. goals against while he’s on the ice). Wight is at plus-22. The only other players in double digits for Idaho are Lance Galbraith (plus-13) and Nesbitt (plus-12).

Obviously, Wight is doing something right. Even if it sometimes looks a little odd while he’s doing it.

“I have an unorthodox way of playing,” he said. “I scramble a lot. If I see the puck on the ice and I can’t get it with my stick, I’ll go down on my knees and get it with my hand. I try to use any way possible to get the puck out of our zone.”

Wight’s eccentricities extend to off the ice, too. He bleached his hair blond at the beginning of the season. He has also garnered plenty of laughs with his funky “Pinball Dance” that the Steelheads have shown on their videoboard a few times this season.

“I like having a lot of fun and being a goofball,” Wight said. “People know I like to joke around.”

Until game time. That’s when he — and Scoran — obviously take their rookie seasons seriously.