PHOTO: Kelly Jacobson/Flin Flon Reminder
Making the journey from Quebec to Saskatchewan to play Junior hockey is a challenging one but a feat that Vincent Nardone took in stride and made for an outstanding rookie season which culminated in the Rosemere, Quebec native earning Sherwood Division Rookie of the Year honours while playing for the Flin Flon Bombers in the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League (SJHL).
The path to Junior ‘A’ began with the Nord Selects of the Quebec Bantam AAA League before shifting to two seasons at the Midget level while completing his final season of minor hockey with the Saint-Eustache Vikings in the Quebec Midget AAA League, “I had a chance to grow up and play with all of my friends, especially in my final year of Midget AAA,” Nardone said, “The hardest part about leaving Quebec to go to Flin Flon was leaving all of the friends I had grown up playing the game with and that we’re going off to the QMJHL.”
For many players from La Belle Province, the aspiration is the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League and not many take the path of college hockey. For Nardone, the decision was a simple one, “I’ve known for a long time that playing Junior ‘A’ and college hockey was the right choice for me,” Nardone mentioned, “I’ve never been the biggest player and when you go to the NCAA, you have four seasons to mature and fill into your body so for me, it was an opportunity to grow as a player so basically since my first year of Midget, if I had the chance to leave Quebec and earn a college scholarship, I would take advantage of that.”
In a final season of Midget AAA that saw Nardone post 13 goals and 35 points in 40 games, he decided to make the move to Flin Flon to pursue his hockey career further, which was a big jump for the 18-year-old, “At the beginning of the year, I didn’t really know what to expect coming from a place like Montreal and going to a small town in Saskatchewan and I was a little bit scared because I didn’t know what was going to happen there,” said Nardone, “But the season ended up going very well for me, we had a really good team with a lot of 20-year-olds so it ended up being really good for me.”
“The league I was coming from in Quebec was based on speed and skill with the SJHL being more of a physical league to play in so that added in to being a bit nervous going there to play,” Nardone continued, “There was a group of five players on the team that were from Quebec so I had a lot of good people helping me and making the transition that much easier.”
A month into his season with the Bombers, the 5’10”, 160-pound forward made a commitment to the University of Nebraska-Omaha, something he had been looking forward to for quite some time, “I made my first visit to Omaha when I was 17 and when I arrived there, the facilities were incredible,” Nardone remarked, “It was like an NHL setup and it was amazing. The assistant coach with the Mavericks is from Quebec as well so that added a level of comfort for me so I thought it was a perfect match.”
“I’m also wanting to study business and Nebraska-Omaha is known to have one of the best business schools in the United States,” Nardone continued, “That sealed it for me that it was the perfect fit and I said yes right after my visit there.”
When it comes to the offseason, Nardone is very committed to getting into the best shape possible and jumping on the ice to hone his craft, “During the summertime, I’m pretty serious,” Nardone said, “I train five times per week and skate around three times during the week. On the weekend, I’m so exhausted from training that I sleep quite a bit but also find time to get out and spend some time with my friends.”
Quick and skilled are some of the things that Nardone used to describe his game as he enters his first season with the Vees, “I’m really fast and I like to play offensively,” mentioned Nardone, “I think I’m a pretty good goal scorer and I like to be around the net and be there to grab some rebounds and score some goals.”
Nardone and the rest of the Vees are set to hit the ice in August 19th ahead of the 2019/20 season with the first game of the exhibition schedule taking place on Wednesday, August 21st in West Kelowna against the Warriors. Season tickets are on sale now and are available by contacting Laura Carleton at (250) 493-8337 ext. 4.