Dowd’s March To The Top Has Been A Steady Climb

As the old adage goes, ‘Good things come to those who wait.’ For Nic Dowd — whose hockey odyssey has taken him from the Deep South to within a step from the top rung of the game — he knows this is only the beginning of his career.

“Once guys make it to the NHL, your work has just begun,” said Dowd, who will start the season with the Manchester Monarchs of the American Hockey League.

Growing up in Huntsville, Ala., Dowd played baseball, soccer and hockey with his buddies. While parents and coaches often push youngsters to specialize in hockey at an early age, Dowd said the opposite was true for him.

“Now, you see a lot of young kids who are one-sport athletes because their families want to get them into it and give them a competitive edge,” Dowd said. “…What helped me was the ability to play all three sports.”

NIC DOWD #26

Position: Center

Shoots:
Right

Height:
6-foot-1

Weight:
175 pounds

Birth Date:
May 27, 1990

Hometown:
Huntsville, Ala.

College: St. Cloud State University

Draft Status:
Selected in the seventh round of the 2009 NHL Entry Draft

USA Hockey History:
None

At age 13, Dowd decided to devote his full attention to hockey.

“It comes down to where you start missing practices for other sports, and coaches are wondering where you are and the time commitment goes through the roof compared to when you were younger.
“Finally, I decided that hockey was what I wanted to do.”

Following his freshman year of high school, Dowd headed to Culver Preparatory Academy in Indiana, one of the nation’s elite prep schools. Standing at 5-foot-3 and 110 pounds, he knew he was a long shot to play on the Varsity ‘A’ team his first year there, but he didn’t know it would take until his senior season before he would crack the top team’s roster.

“He got to where he is now just out of hard work,” said Mike Norton, Culver’s associate athletic director. “Everyone saw some unique talent in him. He had very good hockey sense. He had great hands, a great work ethic and was just a great team guy.”

In his two years in the United States Hockey League, Dowd traversed the country with a short stay with the St. Louis Bandits  followed by stops with the Wenatchee Wild and Indiana Ice. By the time he enrolled at St. Cloud State University in 2010, he was a 20-year-old freshman.

“It’s been really tough on my mom,” Dowd said of his time away from home. “She always said, ‘I didn’t have you to leave my house at 15 years old.’ In my eyes, there are no regrets about leaving home early.”

The hard work and sacrifice would eventually pay off when the Los Angeles Kings selected him in the seventh round of the 2009 NHL Entry Draft— news Dowd received via text message while at Walmart.

Looking back, Dowd credits the step-by-step process and the additional years in the Junior ranks to his success. Now, it’s a matter of proving himself at the professional level with the Monarchs, and hopefully before long, with the Stanley Cup champs.

“I don’t think you ever really get to the top of the mountain,” Dowd said of his journey.

“It remains steep your entire career, and you’re continuing to battle to be the best. There are so many players out there, and if you’re not going to do it, someone else will.”

 

 


 

Youth Star

ANTHONY LAUTZ
Age: 11
Pinetop, Ariz.

The countless miles that Anthony travels to play with the Arizona Hockey Union Squirt team in Phoenix can’t take away from his passion for the game.

Because he does not have class on Fridays, Anthony is able to attend Thursday night practices. His Fridays are filled with small group sessions before playing cross-ice games in preparation for weekend games. His hard work has paid off as he is among his team’s leading scorers.

Away from the ice, Anthony is a straight-A student at Mountain Christian School and is active with his church. He has volunteered with fellow 5th graders at local food kitchens, women’s shelters and nursing homes.

When making the weekly trek to Phoenix, Anthony brings along several “blessing bags,” which include toiletries and snacks that he passes out to the less fortunate individuals his family encounters while driving around the city.


 

Photos courtesy of St. Cloud State University;  Lautz family
Issue: 
2014-10

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