The Tampa Tribune details how because of the now nearly three-month lockout that has shut down the National Hockey League, Nate Thompson has returned to his hometown of Anchorage to play for the Alaska Aces in the East Coast Hockey League – the same team he used to watch while growing up.
“It’s been great,” Thompson said. “It’s been a pretty good fit for me being home having my mom and dad and my friends and to be able to just jump in their cars and drive down to see me play rather than flying 4,000 miles. Then having buddies and friends that I grew up with from Alaska, now getting the opportunity to play with them, it’s been pretty fun.”
Thompson has been joined on the Aces roster by other Alaskan-born NHL players Scott Gomez (Montreal), Joey Crabb (Toronto) and Brandon Dubinsky (Columbus). The quartet has helped to make Alaska into one of the top teams in the league, leading the Western Conference with an 18-7 record heading into Wednesday’s game at second-place Idaho.
And heading into opposing ECHL rinks, littered with a roster of NHL players, has created somewhat of a stir in certain locations.
“I think in certain places that we played they’ve had pretty good crowd and it’s been pretty hostile,” Thompson said. “We’ve heard some choice words coming from the fans but other than that I think it’s been good.”
With all of the hockey Thompson has been playing – the Aces play up to four games week – he said he’ll be ready to jump right into the fray when the NHL does get back up and running.
“I’ve been skating a lot, we play a lot of games and practicing, getting a lot of ice time I feel good right now,” Thompson said. “If the season is starting I think I feel pretty good.”