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Fitzpatrick, Noel are the chosen two


On Saturday, with Day 2 of the NHL Entry Draft ongoing in Buffalo, Nathan Noel was in Mount Pearl playing in the popular Play On! street hockey tournament. Back at his home, Noel’s father, Glen, was sweating it out watching the draft unfold on television.

“Chicago’s pick comes up, and Nathan’s name rolls across the screen, but it says he’s from Finland,” Glen Noel chuckled a day later. “And I’m thinking, ‘Oh my God, can there be another Nathan Noel from Finland?

“Then I got a call from his agent (Allan Walsh), who said, ‘Don’t worry, there’s only one Nathan Noel.’”

Turns out it was just a computer glitch.

A year after going undrafted in Florida, Noel, from St. John’s, was selected in the fourth round, 113th overall, by the Blackhawks.

He found out after one of his street hockey games when he turned on his phone.

“Right after the game, I turned it on and it kind of blew up,” said Noel, who just turned 19 last Tuesday. “I knew then I’d been drafted.”

He wasn’t the highest pick from Newfoundland Saturday at First Niagara Centre. That distinction belongs to goalie Evan Fitzpatrick of St. John’s — now living in Lower Sackville, N.S. — who was grabbed by the St. Louis Blues in the second round, 59th overall.

Related stories:

Noel looks for his calling

Fitzpatrick knows the draft angles

“As soon as the other goalies started to go, I was getting nervous,” said Fitzpatrick, who attended the draft in Buffalo.

Carter Hart from the Western Hockey League’s Everett Silvertips was the first goalie to be selected, in the No. 48 slot to the Philadelphia Flyers. Then Tyler Parsons from the Ontario Hockey League’s London Knights and Sweden’s Filip Gustavsson went back-to-back at Nos. 54 and 55 to the Calgary Flames and Pittsburgh Penguins.

NHL Central Scouting had Fitzpatrick as the highest-ranked North American goalie in the draft.

“When they called my name, I jumped up and started running down the stairs (to the draft floor),” he chuckled.

“But then I tried to calm myself down. It was a pretty overwhelming.”

Fitzpatrick, 18, starred for the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League’s Sherbrooke Phoenix last season, going 18-26 with a 3.42 goals against average and .896 save percentage.

He also played for Canada in the world under-18 championship in North Dakota.

“It was a relief, for sure, to get drafted,” he said. “It’s a lot less stress. At the same time, now the work really begins. And I’m ready for it. I’ll be in the gym every day.”

Fitzpatrick was a fan of former NHL goaltending great Martin Brodeur, who is now the Blues’ assistant general manager.

Naturally, it was a thrill for Fitzpatrick to see Brodeur at the St. Louis draft table with his hand extended.

“I told him I used to watch him a lot of television,” Fitzpatrick said. “He said, ‘I watched you play, too.’

“That’s pretty cool to hear.”

Fitzpatrick will head to St. Louis July 4 for a development camp. After that, he’ll attend a rookie camp and tournament in Traverse City, Mich., and he hopes from there to get invited to the Blues’ main training camp.

In a bit of a St. John’s connection, the Blues’ new No. 1 netminder is now Jake Allen of Fredericton, N.B., who played the 2007-08 season with the-then St. John’s Fog Devils of the QMJHL.

“I know Jake a bit, talked to him a few times,” Fitzpatrick said. “I’m going to a great situation in St. Louis.”

Allen will be handed the Blues’ starting job after St. Louis dealt Brian Elliott to the Calgary Flames Friday.

As for Noel, Saturday’s selection by the Blackhawks officially erases any disappointment that was experienced last year when he and his family travelled to Sunrise, Fla., for the draft.

Despite being the 54th-ranked North American skater by Central Scouting, Noel went through the entire draft without hearing his name called.

This year, Central Scouting had him rated 171st, and most mock drafts had him pegged to go late in the draft.

“All that is erased now,” he said of the 2015 draft setback. “I’ve pretty much forgotten about that.”

Noel, a centre, had 21 goals and 36 assists in 61 QMJHL games last season for the Saint John Sea Dogs. Like Fitzpatrick, he’ll head to the Blackhawks’ development camp in Chicago this weekend. And he’ll also play in the rookie tournament in Traverse City, looking for an invite to the main training camp.

“I guess there’s a sense of relief and security (getting drafted),” he said. “For me, it was big to get drafted because I didn’t want to be battling for an invite someplace as a free agent.

“I guess this almost feels like job security.”

Noel was officially notified he was drafted with a phone call from Blackhawks’ general manager Stan Bowman.

That done, Noel and his buddies prepared for the Play On! final.

They lost in the championship game.

 

rshort@thetelegram.com

“Chicago’s pick comes up, and Nathan’s name rolls across the screen, but it says he’s from Finland,” Glen Noel chuckled a day later. “And I’m thinking, ‘Oh my God, can there be another Nathan Noel from Finland?

“Then I got a call from his agent (Allan Walsh), who said, ‘Don’t worry, there’s only one Nathan Noel.’”

Turns out it was just a computer glitch.

A year after going undrafted in Florida, Noel, from St. John’s, was selected in the fourth round, 113th overall, by the Blackhawks.

He found out after one of his street hockey games when he turned on his phone.

“Right after the game, I turned it on and it kind of blew up,” said Noel, who just turned 19 last Tuesday. “I knew then I’d been drafted.”

He wasn’t the highest pick from Newfoundland Saturday at First Niagara Centre. That distinction belongs to goalie Evan Fitzpatrick of St. John’s — now living in Lower Sackville, N.S. — who was grabbed by the St. Louis Blues in the second round, 59th overall.

Related stories:

Noel looks for his calling

Fitzpatrick knows the draft angles

“As soon as the other goalies started to go, I was getting nervous,” said Fitzpatrick, who attended the draft in Buffalo.

Carter Hart from the Western Hockey League’s Everett Silvertips was the first goalie to be selected, in the No. 48 slot to the Philadelphia Flyers. Then Tyler Parsons from the Ontario Hockey League’s London Knights and Sweden’s Filip Gustavsson went back-to-back at Nos. 54 and 55 to the Calgary Flames and Pittsburgh Penguins.

NHL Central Scouting had Fitzpatrick as the highest-ranked North American goalie in the draft.

“When they called my name, I jumped up and started running down the stairs (to the draft floor),” he chuckled.

“But then I tried to calm myself down. It was a pretty overwhelming.”

Fitzpatrick, 18, starred for the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League’s Sherbrooke Phoenix last season, going 18-26 with a 3.42 goals against average and .896 save percentage.

He also played for Canada in the world under-18 championship in North Dakota.

“It was a relief, for sure, to get drafted,” he said. “It’s a lot less stress. At the same time, now the work really begins. And I’m ready for it. I’ll be in the gym every day.”

Fitzpatrick was a fan of former NHL goaltending great Martin Brodeur, who is now the Blues’ assistant general manager.

Naturally, it was a thrill for Fitzpatrick to see Brodeur at the St. Louis draft table with his hand extended.

“I told him I used to watch him a lot of television,” Fitzpatrick said. “He said, ‘I watched you play, too.’

“That’s pretty cool to hear.”

Fitzpatrick will head to St. Louis July 4 for a development camp. After that, he’ll attend a rookie camp and tournament in Traverse City, Mich., and he hopes from there to get invited to the Blues’ main training camp.

In a bit of a St. John’s connection, the Blues’ new No. 1 netminder is now Jake Allen of Fredericton, N.B., who played the 2007-08 season with the-then St. John’s Fog Devils of the QMJHL.

“I know Jake a bit, talked to him a few times,” Fitzpatrick said. “I’m going to a great situation in St. Louis.”

Allen will be handed the Blues’ starting job after St. Louis dealt Brian Elliott to the Calgary Flames Friday.

As for Noel, Saturday’s selection by the Blackhawks officially erases any disappointment that was experienced last year when he and his family travelled to Sunrise, Fla., for the draft.

Despite being the 54th-ranked North American skater by Central Scouting, Noel went through the entire draft without hearing his name called.

This year, Central Scouting had him rated 171st, and most mock drafts had him pegged to go late in the draft.

“All that is erased now,” he said of the 2015 draft setback. “I’ve pretty much forgotten about that.”

Noel, a centre, had 21 goals and 36 assists in 61 QMJHL games last season for the Saint John Sea Dogs. Like Fitzpatrick, he’ll head to the Blackhawks’ development camp in Chicago this weekend. And he’ll also play in the rookie tournament in Traverse City, looking for an invite to the main training camp.

“I guess there’s a sense of relief and security (getting drafted),” he said. “For me, it was big to get drafted because I didn’t want to be battling for an invite someplace as a free agent.

“I guess this almost feels like job security.”

Noel was officially notified he was drafted with a phone call from Blackhawks’ general manager Stan Bowman.

That done, Noel and his buddies prepared for the Play On! final.

They lost in the championship game.

 

rshort@thetelegram.com

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