Calgary Flames Draftee Josh Nodler leaves Michigan State Hockey Team after three seasons

Josh Nodler was strong in the faceoff circle during his three seasons on the Michigan State hockey team.  He was 310-263 on faceoffs this season.
Josh Nodler was strong in the faceoff circle during his three seasons on the Michigan State hockey team. He was 310-263 on faceoffs this season. (Michigan State University)

The 5-foot-10, 195-pound junior forward from Oak Park has two years left of collegiate eligibility.

Ssometimes dreams do not come true.

Josh Nodler, who verbally committed to play hockey for Michigan State University when he was a sophomore at Berkley High School, is leaving Michigan State after three seasons.

Nodler, an assistant team captain this season, entered the NCAA transfer portal earlier this month. The 5-foot-10, 195-pound junior forward from Oak Park has two years left of collegiate eligibility.

It did not take long for Nodler to generate interest from other college hockey programs after he made his decision to leave Michigan State.

Josh Nodler
Josh Nodler

He said he heard from a couple of Division I schools a few days after he entered the portal.

“I’m disappointed that things did not work out at MSU because I’ve been an MSU hockey fan all my life, but I have to do what’s best for my career,” he said.

“I was thinking of going into the portal after this season a bit during the season, but my main focus was on helping our team. After the season was over, I thought a lot about the portal.

“It was a difficult decision to leave MSU, and it’s hard to pinpoint a specific reason for the decision, but hopefully a new place, a change of pace, will help advance my development to the next level.”

The next level is the professionals.

Nodler was selected by the Calgary Flames in the fifth round (150th overall) of the 2019 NHL draft after an excellent season with the Fargo Force in the United States Hockey League, the top junior league sanctioned by the United States Hockey. Nodler had 42 points in 54 games with Force.

Next season will be Nodler’s last as the Flames draftee.

“If Flames does not sign me, I will basically be a free agent,” he said.

The ticking clock of his time in the Flames organization is one of the reasons Nodler decided to leave Michigan State. He is due to strike next season.

Nodler, who was named Michigan State’s Rookie of the Year as a rookie, had 34 points in 99 games for the Spartans over three seasons.

He played in every Michigan State game in his time with the Spartans and did not hurt his team with penalties. He was whistled just three times in six minutes.

Nodler was at stake at the start of this season with 11 points in Michigan State’s first 13 games. But then he collapsed by just one point from Nov. 19 to Feb. 25.

He finished the season with seven goals and eight assists for 15 points in 36 games in his most productive year as Spartans.

He had three goals and five assists in 36 games as a rookie and three goals and eight assists in 27 games as a sophomore.

While not conspicuous scoring numbers, Nodler was one of Michigan State’s best centers each season and an excellent faceoff man.

Michigan State did not exactly set the world on fire in the position during Nodler’s time there.

The Spartans had overall 34-60-5 in the three years, including 12-23-1 this season, a year in which MSU lost all six games they played against arch-rival Michigan.

Noodles, a major in computer science, has been a star in the classroom at Michigan State and has won this winter’s Big Ten Academic All-Conference honors three times. He had a perfect average of 4.0 as a freshman.

Nodler won the team’s Amo Bessone Award as a sophomore. The award is for athletic and academic achievement along with community involvement.

As Nodler considers the next stop on his hockey trip a few days before his 21st birthday (April 27), he looks back on what he calls “a positive college experience” during his time in Michigan State.

“I had a ton of fun and created a lot of great memories with my teammates,” he said. “Academic and social life has been amazing.”

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