Jordan Nolan of Garden River First Nation was playing hockey in the minors when he got the call to join the big club in February.
Now the 22-year-old is part of the underrated Los Angeles Kings team that is closing in on its first trip to the NHL Stanley Cup Finals in 19 years.
After playing several seasons for the Erie Otters, Windsor Spitfires and the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds in the Ontario Hockey League, Nolan was drafted by the Kings in the seventh round in 2009.
The centre spent two seasons playing for the Kings’ American Hockey League affiliate the Manchester Monarchs until he got the call on the morning of Feb. 10 to join the Kings in their run to the playoffs. He played his first NHL game the following night against the New York Islanders and scored his first NHL goal the next day against the Dallas Stars.
Standing at 6’3” and weighing 227 pounds, Nolan brought a strong physical presence to the club, playing on the fourth line as a winger. He finished the regular season with 28 PIM and 59 hits in 26 games to go along with his two goals and four points.
Nolan brought his fast and physical game to the NHL Stanley Cup playoffs where he was a factor in eliminating the St. Louis Blues in Game 4 of the Western Conference semi-final on May 6. He scored the Kings’ first goal in the first period against a tight-checking Blues team. In the same period, he fought Blues forward Chris Stewart to energize the team and crowd.
Nolan’s goal proved to be crucial as the Kings held on to a 2-1 lead in the third before netting an empty-net goal with a minute left. The win was the fourth needed to eliminate the Blues and advance to the next round. When the final buzzer sounded, Nolan was the first player Kings head coach Darryl Sutter congratulated, patting him on the back.
So far, Nolan’s first NHL playoff goal is the only point he has in the playoffs, but has 21 PIM and 22 hits to go with it.
Meanwhile, Nolan’s father Ted spent his spring coaching Latvia’s men’s national team in the IIHF World Championship.
The former NHLer played three seasons for the Detroit Red Wings and Pittsburgh Penguins in the early-80s before embarking on a coaching career. In 1995, he became head coach of the Buffalo Sabres and won the Jack Adams Award for the NHL’s top coach in his second season.
Nolan later coached the New York Islanders for the 2006-07 and 2007-08 seasons.
The senior Nolan was not able to match of the success of his son this spring however, coaching the Latvia team to a 2-5 record in the international tournament. The team finished tied for fifth in Group S, just one spot out of advancing to the quarterfinals to play for the gold medal.
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