St. John’s native Nathan Noel continues his journey to NHL stardom
We’re all well aware that there’s no shortage of hockey fans in Canada, and especially in Newfoundland and Labrador. Michael Ryder, Daniel Cleary, and Keith Brown were all born and raised on the Rock and played in the NHL, just to name a few. But now there’s a new dog in town, or should I say, a new Blackhawk.
The Early Years
Nathan Noel was born and raised in the city of St. John’s, along with his sister Natasha Noel and his fabulous, well-rounded parents Glen and Nadine. You could say Glen is a diehard hockey fan, which I’m sure had something to do with it. Noel has devoted most of his life towards hockey, but there were those few early years where that wasn’t the plan.
“I was into sports, but I wasn’t really into hockey until I was around eight years old, then I picked it up extremely quick,” Noel shared in an interview with The Newfoundland Herald.
“Every year I was improving quicker than a lot of the other players my age. I wasn’t the best when I started obviously, because I started so late. Everyone else had been skating since they were like three or four years old.”
Besides his father, one other man had a huge influence on Noel and his pursuit of happiness towards the NHL.
“Patty Yetman, he kind of took me under his wing. He’s just different than all the coaches in Newfoundland. He’s like a rough and tough old guy, gonna push ya every day. With him it’s just like he preached work ethic. Some parents don’t like their kid being pushed too hard and that’s something that he didn’t care for. If a parent would come in and be pissed at him, he’d just tell them like, don’t show up then, I don’t care, take your business elsewhere,” Noel explained with a laugh.
“So, he was building hockey players, he wasn’t doing it for the money. He was there to push people to the next level.”
Noel began playing for the St. John’s Caps, up until he was in second year bantam. He then made the tough decision of leaving his hometown, his family, and his friends to move to Minnesota at only 14 years old. He attended Shattuck-Saint Mary’s Coeducational Episcopal-affiliated boarding school in Faribault.
“I’ve always wanted to play in the NHL, and I knew that if I was gonna do that I had to be playing the best players, so I had to find a way to do that and the best way that I found was in Shattuck. I just seen like Nathan MacKinnon, Sidney Crosby, all these names. It clearly was a place to go that was gonna make you better,” Noel admitted.
During his first year attending Shattuck, he made the bantam team. By his second year, he was playing on the prep team. Noel was the first player to play underage on the prep team since Sidney Crosby did at the young age of 15.
“I played a different role than Crosby, obviously I’m not comparing myself to him. I was kind of a third line type deal, so a little bit different, but it was still a huge accomplishment to make that team,” Noel explained. “Even with signing an NHL contract, that would be one of the toughest things I ever accomplished.”
Jump ahead four years and Noel had been playing centre and wing for the Saint John Seadogs since the age of 16. He was now in his NHL eligibility years, but unfortunately, didn’t get drafted during his first year of eligibility.
“That was really the first time I ever really faced an extreme amount of adversity. That was the first time I ever really felt like I failed at anything. I didn’t hit any huge bumps in the road until that point, so that was probably the biggest game-changer in my career this far,” Noel confessed.
“I definitely thought about quitting, I was at a low point. That was the lowest point that I was ever at in my life. I thought like, well I don’t know if this is what I’m gonna be doing, I don’t know if this is gonna be my career, I gotta figure something out here.”
Back On The Horse
After a few months of dejection and a lack of motivation, Noel decided enough was enough. Like most of us, it doesn’t take much to bounce back when you have a burning desire to achieve a lifelong goal.
“I re-entered the draft. You don’t usually get drafted in your second and third year, but the Blackhawks liked me enough to keep me in the fourth round. I’m still far away from my goal but that was a huge boost. The following year they signed me to a contract,” he shared.
“Right now I’m in the east coast league. I suffered an injury, so I’m going through a bit of adversity now, but I’ve faced it before. For me, I don’t even think about the situation, it’s just whether or not you’re putting in the work everyday,” Noel continued. “The hockey world is the same as every other job you go into, it’s the exact same. You grind your way up the ranks, you go through the BS, you go through your ups and downs and eventually the best people are gonna win out, and that’s just how it is in life, and everywhere.”
For information and stats on Nathan Noel, please visit www.hockeydb.com or www.nhl.com/player/nathan-noel-8478412