By Chris Langrill
The Idaho Statesman
BOISE, Idaho – Imagine beginning your day and having a name like D’Arcy McConvey III and having the kind of boyish good looks that can turn girls’ heads.
Then imagine having a hockey puck slam into your face, which breaks your nose and bloodies your eye. Instead of D’Arcy, people are calling you Hannibal, and now when girls turn their heads it’s because they can’t bear to look at you.
Welcome to a day in the life of this year’s Idaho Steelheads captain.
Two games after having his nose broken, McConvey scored a hat trick Friday night against the Fresno Falcons.
It wasn’t the first time McConvey has scored since breaking his nose. He actually came back to score in that same game against Stockton. He scored the final goal of that contest.
The fun started against Stockton in the first period, when a puck flew under McConvey’s visor and hit his nose and left eye. The result was a non-displaced fracture of his nose and an eye that is still black and bloodied.
“I’d say I was pretty lucky how it all turned out,” McConvey said. “It’s just a crack in my nose. Not that big of a deal.”
Still, why would he decide to return to a game that many would call meaningless? Idaho is firmly entrenched in third place in the West Division with no real hope of moving up.
“I wasn’t hurting too bad,” the 5-foot-10, 180-pound center said. “I was bleeding a lot, but I wasn’t hurting too bad. I felt like I could play. I didn’t think it was a huge deal coming back into the game.”
Not that he got much sympathy from his teammates when he returned.
“I came back on the bench and the boys were dying laughing, because my nose was taped up, too,” McConvey said. “So not only was I wearing a cage (mask), but I had this taped-up nose, so I looked like Hannibal. They were yelling Hannibal on the ice.”
At that point, Steelheads trainer Dennis “Moose” Brogna figured that he could count on McConvey staying out of trouble.
“Moose wasn’t too happy because I got popped at the end of the game after I already had a broken nose,” McConvey said. “But I probably deserved it. I was just getting under (Stockton defenseman Jason Metcalfe’s) skin, and I think I hit his boiling point and he turned around and popped me.”
At least he had the mask on to protect his nose, right?
“Well, it cut my chin,” McConvey said.
Steelheads coach Derek Laxdal said that game exemplified many of the reasons that he named McConvey the team captain before the season started.
“Well, the kid wanted to play,” Laxdal said. “And that just shows you the heart and soul, a good example of why he’s wearing the ‘C.’ “
Many coaches will let their players decide who becomes team captain, but Laxdal said that backfired on him one year when his players chose someone he didn’t think was fit to lead. Ever since then, he’s named the captain of his hockey team.
“The reason I pick the captain is a lot of the times it becomes a popularity contest in training camp,” Laxdal said.
But Laxdal’s decision could have backfired. After all, McConvey, 24, had only one year of pro hockey under his belt after playing four years at Bowling Green and the Steelheads had veterans like Marty Flichel, Scott Burt and Jeremy Mylymok returning to the team.
“Guys like Burty and guys like Mylsy, they don’t need letters to be leaders in the locker room,” Laxdal said. “It’s just natural.”
And it turned out that the captain’s role was a natural for McConvey, too.
Not only has he been a leader off the ice, but he’s delivered on it. In 53 games, he is tied for the league lead with seven game-winning goals and leads Idaho with 44 assists and 77 points.
McConvey would like to be playing at the next level in the AHL on a regular basis (he’s had two short call-ups this season), and Laxdal said it’s just a matter of time.
“He’s going to get called up again,” Laxdal said.
In the meantime, Laxdal said he thinks there are a couple of areas that McConvey can continue to work on at the ECHL level.
“He’s got to become real strong on the defensive side of the game, and he’s got to become a 65 percent or better faceoff man.”