If you happen to see a few New Jersey Devils’ logos in the Mile One Centre crowd for tonight’s Game 3 of the Eastern Conference quarter-final, there’s a good chance they will belong to a relative of Albany Devils’ captain Rod Pelley, who has a wealth of family throughout the province.
©— Photo by James DiBanco Jr./Albany Devils
He was born and raised in northern British Columbia and he plays for the Albany Devils, but Rod Pelley is looking forward to coming ‘home’ for the remainder of the American Hockey League’s first-round playoff series with the St. John’s IceCaps.
If you happen to see a few New Jersey Devils’ logos in the Mile One Centre crowd for tonight’s Game 3 of the Eastern Conference quarter-final, there’s a good chance they will belong to a relative of Pelley’s. That’s because there will be plenty of aunts and uncles and cousins in tonight’s crowd.
Pelley’s mother and father are from Grand Falls and Bishop’s Falls. His father, Fred, played hockey for the Grand Falls Cataracts and Alex Faulkner of Bishop’s Falls, the first Newfoundlander to play in the NHL, is a long-time family friend.
Rod Pelley always makes sure to drop in on Faulkner when he makes his yearly trip to the province.
Pelley’s parents moved to the west coast in the late 1970s to find work. Rod and his brother, Ryan, were born in Kitimat, B.C. but his parents have since retired and moved back home to Bonne Bay Pond, just outside Deer Lake.
“I have relatives all over Newfoundland,” said Pelley, who captains the Albany Devils. “My dad had 12 brothers and sisters.
“So playing St. John’s has special meaning. When I saw the matchup (with the IceCaps), I was pretty pumped.
“Growing up in B.C., playing against the Canucks was a big thrill for me. But a lot of my surrounding family is in Newfoundland so when this matchup came along, I was pretty excited. I know there’s going to be a strong show of support from the Pelley family. All my cousins have kids, so they’ll all be there.
“It’s definitely going to be special. It’s going to be fun.”
This is Pelley’s eighth pro season after four years at Ohio State University. In between, he’s appeared in 256 NHL games with New Jersey and Anaheim.
Pelley isn’t the only NHLer born in Kitimat. Goalie Mark Fitzpatrick was the 27th overall pick by the Los Angeles Kings in 1987. And wouldn’t you know it, Fitzpatrick is the son of Newfoundlanders. His father, Gerald “Moose” Fitzpatrick, played soccer for the St. Lawrence Laurentians.
“I’m not sure what Mark’s doing now,” Pelley said. “I know his mom and dad moved from Kitimat a while ago.
“My dad used to play soccer against Moose. He said Moose was just a beast.”
Pelley and his wife live in the Vancouver area, but that may change now that the couple are expecting a child.
“We might try and get closer to family,” he said. “We’ll see how that goes.”