Part 1: The background.
Flash back to the 1997 Frozen Four championship game. A sophomore at North Dakota, named Adam Calder was given the assignment of Hobey Baker Runner-Up and Boston University junior Chris Drury. Alongside Jeff Ulmer and Matt Henderson, Drury was taken from Hobey Baker runner-up to virtual anonymity on the score sheet. After that game, and through the next two years, Calder helped North Dakota become poised for another title, which they won in 2000. Every year Calder played, the Fighting Sioux made it to the Frozen Four, benefited by his strong two-way play. In 2000, Calder had moved on to help rebuild a team for a Championship.
In 1997, eight weeks after the Fighting Sioux won their NCAA Championship, the South Carolina Stingrays won the ECHL’s Kelly Cup, becoming the first team in the league to win both the regular season and playoff crowns. Four years later, Calder and Drury both played for championships in their respective leagues, and both were successful in their endeavors, but the question that still remains is why a very talented two-way forward with an excellent hockey IQ remains in the lower echelons, while other players with less talent and lighter work ethics have made the jump to the AHL and NHL.
Calder, a 5’11 185lb. forward, went undrafted and was found by South Carolina Stingrays head coach Rick Adduono three weeks before the ECHL began training camp. Calder had an immediate impact on the Stingrays, despite missing almost two months of the season with a knee injury and Call-up to Rochester. On the first road trip of the season, Calder exploded with seven goals and ten assists in nine games. After returning from injury, Calder was again ready to make an impact, and this time he earned league recognition for his impact. Calder was named the ECHL player of the week in February 2000, after he scored two hat tricks in a week, and was subsequently named rookie of the month. After February, Calder spent two weeks in March playing for the Milwaukee Admirals of the IHL, where he saw very limited playing time, and scored no points in seven games, three of which, he never even skated in. Calder scored 22 goals and added 22 assist in 41 total regularseason games.
When Calder returned to South Carolina, the team was gearing up for the play offs, but had struggled without him in the line up, and ended up in the wild card round, which they won, and then moved on to end their season in the conference semi-finals to the Louisiana IceGators. In his ten Playoff games, Adam calder had 4 goals and 8 assist for 12 points.
The 2000-01 season brought more hope for both the Stingrays and Adam Calder. Calder started off his season with the Rochester Americans training camp, but came to South Carolina, along with Kirk Daubenspeck under a team option. Both players began the year with a slow start, as did the entire team, starting 1-3-1. After the slow start, the Stingrays found themselves picking up steam in the race for the Brabham cup. Calder was now playing with a much younger team than the one that had played with him the previous year, and instead of scrificing scoring for better defense, Calder was able to do both.
With a stronger defensive corps behind him, Calder was able to take some offensive chances in the regular season, and as a result, he was able to lead the team in scoring, along with provide excellent defense for a team that allowed the fewest short handed goals in the league. In the playoffs, Calder led the team in game winning Goals, with 5, one more than playoff MVP Dave Seitz, including the goal that stood for two periods as the Kelly Cup clincher.
Part 2: An Interview with Adam Calder
HF: You won both an NCAA Champion ship and a Kelly Cup. Which one did you think had a bit more glow to it?
Adam Calder: I think they both did in their own way. They’re both tough to win, and the group of guys we won it with in North Dakota, and the group of guys we won it with here were unbelievable and that what makes it a good team, but to pick one or the other is too hard as to which one was better.
HF: In your two years here in South Carolina, you’ve had the opportunity to get called up to play in both the AHL and the IHL. Which of the styles of play in those two leagues did you like better?
AC: I think they both are two different styles. The IHL is a bit more positional and there are younger guys in the AHL. I think I had more fun playing in the AHL I had friends that I played with on the team in North Dakota. It made it a lot more Enjoyable stepping in and having guys you knew, so I think my time in the AHL was more enjoyable.
HF: In the ECHL, the style of play is a bit more “rough and tumble” than in the NCAA. How did you adjust, and about how long did it take you?
AC: Actually, it wasn’t that hard, in the NCAA, everybody skates as hard as they can and when you get to the pro level, it’s a lot more positional, so the adjustment from NCAA to the East Coast wasn’t that difficult, but it is a bit more rough and tumble, and when you stick a guy in the NCAA, they can’t hit you, but that’s not the case in the ECHL.
HF: You’ve got a cousin, Shane playing in the ECHL for Baton Rouge, what’s it like when you get the chance to play against him?
AC: Actually, we’ve only played him once, and this year we didn’t get him, because when we played Baton rouge, he was in Pensacola, so last year when we played them, both our Dads were in the (North Charleston) Coliseum watching the game in Charleston. It was a good moment. We kinda hit each other a little bit, and would be hoping you weren’t the one that falls. It was fun.
HF: Last year, we had both Rob and Brendan Concannon playing here in South Carolina. How would you feel about being able to play with Shane, either here in Charleston or in Baton Rouge?
AC: That would be awesome, but with him being a veteran and the veteran situation they have in South Carolina, I don’t see that happening unless I got traded to Baton Rouge.
HF: Changing gears a bit, while you were growing up in Manitoba, Playing Hockey in south Carolina was probably one of the furthest things from your mind. How is playing hockey here in a warm weather state different from playing for Portage or UND?
AC: It’s a lot different. When I call home in December and tell them I just got off the golf course, the get a little jealous. It’s tough getting focused on hockey when there’s so much to do down here and up there, what you’re doing is going to the rink and then back to the dorm to study, but here after practice, you’re either out golfing or doing something enjoyable.
HF: Coach Rick Adduono has been known for his ability to find some of the best young talent the Drafts have overlooked and bringing them to South Carolina. How did coach Adduono convince you to come play here?
AC: Actually, it wasn’t hard. The city and the organization pretty much recruits itself with the track record it has. I talked to Rick, and I knew a few guys at UND from Thunder Bay that knew Rick It wasn’t a hard decision. There were a few other teams, but in the end, I knew I wanted to play in South Carolina.
HF: You’ve had a bit of a track record going for scoring goals that sealed up championships, with the empty Netter that sealed the National championship at UND and the Game winner in the last game of the Kelly cup finals, Is there any thing that pays to that, or has it just been luck for you?
AC: It’s VERY lucky. It just happened to stand up that way. It’s nothing that you try to do. You just want to go out and contribute. You don’t go out there thinking “I’m going to get the clinching goal.” With the way the Series was going, I thought (Dave Seitz) was going to get the game winner.
HF: What do you think of playing with Dave Seitz, both on and off the ice?
AC: I think he’s a great guy. On the Ice, he’s a great player, he makes his linemates look twice as good as they are. If you get open, He’ll get you the puck. It was like that with Brendan Concannon, too. He’s another good player, and I’ve been luck y to play with a lot of good players. I think off the ice, he’s unbelievable. If you need something, and he can get it for you, he will.
HF: UND has been known for being a major feeder of NHL talent, and you’ve played with a lot of Guys that are in the NHL. Do you keep in touch with your old teammates, and what are your plans, if and when you make it to the NHL?
AC: I talk to them quite a bit, I talk to Mike Commodore, the guys I played with, I talk to once every two weeks, at least once a month. As far as making it there, I think it’s a long ways away, but the guys are all good, it doesn’t change them when they’re in the NHL, they’re all down to earth, and that’s what’s good about all the guys I’ve played with.
HF: As you’ve seen, the EHCL is rapidly Changing. With the IHL folding, and the CHL merging with the WPHL, there’s a possibility of seeing new teams, cities and players, how do you think this will affect your game?
AC: I think it’s good with the new teams, but every time we get a new team, we lose a team, so it’s tough that way. I think with the IHL folding, there will be a lot more contracted players playing in the East Coast, and it’ll make the level of hockey here that much better.
HF: At the start of this past season, You got to go to training Camp with the Rochester Americans, and you did pretty well there, scoring a couple game winning goals in the exhibition season, how do you feel about the possibility of being able to spend a whole season in Rochester, or the AHL?
AC:Actually, I don’t know. I don’t even think Rochester is interested in me, to be honest. It was a good experience, and it was good. I was lucky with the goals, but hockey is a year-by-year thing, and I’ll see what happens.