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Winding path leads Oak Park's Josh Nodler back to Pro Hockey Dreams | Sport

Winding path leads Oak Park's Josh Nodler back to Pro Hockey Dreams |  Sport


Now that his college hockey career is behind him, Josh Nodler is looking to the future, which he hopes will include playing professionally.


Josh Nodler

Josh Nodler describes his five-year college hockey career as a winding path.

The trail ends at the same place it began, where the 22-year-old Oak Park resident hoped to play professional hockey.

Nodler will complete his master's degree in computer science from Bowling Green University this spring, after which he plans to explore professional hockey options this summer.

He would like to end up in the American Hockey League or ECHL, great places to get noticed by NHL teams.

Nodler, a 6-foot-1, 203-pound center, began his college hockey career at Michigan State shortly after being selected by the Calgary Flames in the fifth round of the 2019 NHL draft. He is no longer owned of the Flames.

After three seasons at Michigan State, including being named Rookie of the Year in the 2019-2020 season, Nodler transferred to Massachusetts (where he earned a bachelor's degree in computer science) and then to Bowling Green.

In 162 college games, he had 20 goals and 34 assists.

He had five goals and 10 assists at Bowling Green last season, with three multi-point games and two power play goals.

The 15 points Nodler collected as the Falcons tied for a career-high. He also scored 15 points during the 2021-22 season at Michigan State. He had seven goals and eight assists with the Spartans that season.

The five years I played college hockey went by quickly, Nodler said. It seems like just yesterday when I started my freshman season at Michigan State. It was a winding path, but I enjoyed it.

While his college hockey path took twists and turns, Nodler stayed on a straight line academically. He never shifted his focus from computer science.

“I am proud and happy that I stayed with computer science,” he said. I've thought a few times about doing something that was easier or less demanding. Whether I play professional hockey for a year or ten years, I have prepared myself for a good career after hockey.

The Michigan State hockey team had some lean seasons when Nodler was there. The Spartans won the Big Ten championship this past season and appeared in the NCAA tournament.

Nodler supported the Spartans from afar.

I put my heart and soul into that team for three years. My departure was strictly a hockey decision, he said. I loved what Michigan State did this season.

I felt a sense of pride in being part of the program. I played there with a few guys who are still there, and I know a few other guys on the team. Ice hockey is a small world. I was a Michigan State hockey fan growing up. Playing there was a dream come true.

Bowling Green finished 13-22-1 during the 2023-24 season, suffering its third straight losing season, and coach Ty Eigner was fired on March 11.

Eigner had no knowledge of an off-campus incident prior to the season involving older players providing alcohol to underage players, but he was placed on leave by the university while an investigation was conducted, and fired after the season.

Nodler enjoyed his time on the Bowling Green hockey team, despite the sub-500 record and distractions.

There was a great group of guys on the team and the coaching staff was great, he said. All those things that happened have brought us closer together.

I played a big role in the team and I'm getting my master's degree. And I now play with more confidence as a player.

Nodler's family attends Congregation Beth Shalom.

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