Eleven days after his college career ended in a 7-1 first round playoff loss to Ohio State, Brandon Svendsen started his professional career in impressive fashion. In his first game as a member of the East Coast Hockey League’s (ECHL) Idaho Steelheads, the former Falcon assistant captain picked up an early first period assist, then tied the game at three with 50 seconds remaining in the contest.
Following a scoreless overtime period, Svendsen beat Victoria Salmon Kings’ goalie Julien Ellis in the shootout to help the Steelheads end a three game losing streak.
“He was the fifth shooter; we were a little short forwards, so I threw him in and he tied it up with a nice move to freeze the goalie,” said Steelhead coach Derek Laxdall.
Since his first game with the Steelheads, Svendsen has become a consistent contributor playing on the top line scoring four goals and adding ten assist in his first eight games. For the Rosewood, MN native scoring has been nothing new after his final college season when he had 12 goals and 18 assists.
“I’ve just tried to continue what I’ve been doing throughout the year at Bowling Green,” said Svendsen.
For Svendsen some of the biggest changes from college to the ECHL have been the added frequency of games in a week, compared to two during a college season, and the added physicality of minor league hockey.
“The whole style of the game is completely different, there is a lot more control and structure to the game,” Svendsen said.
At 5’10” 184 lbs, Svendsen is the second smallest player on the Steelheads, however that hasn’t hurt his chances to impress coach Laxdal.
“He’s fit in very well in our hockey club, he went in and got right in our top line since we had someone else called up [to the AHL],” said Laxdal. “He’s shown he can play in the ECHL as a top six forward on our team.”
Another reason Svendsen has been able to compete at the ECHL level is his strong defensive play, especially during special teams. With the Falcons, Svendsen had a conference leading three shorthanded goals and was a crucial part of BG’s 83.7% penalty kill.
“He’s such a smart player, he’s not afraid to take a chance while short handed,” said Svendsens’ linemate at BG David Solway. “There were a lot of 5-on-3s late in the season where he was literally out there for the whole two minutes. He was our biggest penalty killer, he out worked and outsmarted the other team every night.”
As a member of the Steelheads, Svendsen has already scored shorthanded and has a plus/minus rating of seven.
One of the contributing factors to Svendsen signing with Idaho was their affiliation with the National Hockey League’s Dallas Stars. The signing will also give him another chance at playoff hockey as the Steelheads are guaranteed at least the second seed in the ECHL playoffs.
While Svendsen hopes to have a long professional career, he also plans to finish his degree in business management from Bowling Green this summer.