A day after being drafted, Nic Kerdiles and his family could hardly contain their enthusiasm that the 18-year-old Irvine resident was selected as a 2nd round draft pick of his hometown team, the Anaheim Ducks.
Hours before stepping onto a plane to fly to Madison Wisconsin for summer school, the 6-foot-2, 201-pound forward and his family were still in disbelief when his name was called.
“My whole family was shocked and excited,” said Kerdiles. “I have always liked the Ducks so it is super flattering that they would pick me.”
What started with playing roller hockey in a neighbor’s driveway at the age of 6 paid off Saturday morning when Kerdiles learned the news. He's the first player the Ducks have drafted from Orange County.
“I knew there was a chance that they would take me,” said Kerdiles. “We had a few meetings with them and I had a feeling that after I fell out of the first round the Ducks would draft me.”
The player’s house is just a 15-minute drive from his future place of employment, the Honda Center in Anaheim. Kerdiles tries to attend at least 10 Ducks games a year. He was also fortunate enough to attend games 3 and 6 of the 2012 Stanley Cup Final.
Born in Lewisville, Texas, Kerdiles moved to France at a young age before his parents settled down in Southern California when he was 6-years-old. By the age of 8 Kerdiles had convinced his parents to put him on the ice.
He was a natural from the beginning. Kerdiles played for the Los Angeles Kings’ Selects youth program. In 2009, he was invited to join the U.S. National Team Development Program in Ann Arbor, Mich.
Kerdiles led the U.S. National Under-18 squad with 20 goals and 42 points in 50 games.
During that time the team won two gold-medals at the World 18-and-Under Championships, beating powerhouse Sweden both times.
Kerdiles is going into his freshman year at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the home of the Badgers, where he's going to summer school and working out with the hockey team.
“My meetings with my coaches make me think that they are going to expect a lot of me,” said Kerdiles.
He doesn't know when he's going to leave for the National Hockey League. The team has rights to him througout his college career.
“I am excited to go and get my education,” said Kerdiles. “Right now I am looking into things like communication and kinesiology.”
A prototypical forward, Kerdiles describes his game as powerful; something that he believes will help him once he reaches the NHL.
“I think to be in the league you need to be a big power forward with speed and skill,” said Kerdiles. “I can be a top two line or three line guy. I am also the type of player that is going to produce day in and day out.”
While his talent has been crucial in his success thus far, Kerdiles is quick to point out the contributions that his family has made to his burgeoning career have been just as instrumental.
“My family sacrificed a lot for me,” said Kerdiles. “My family drove me everywhere and supported me. They really gave me the tools to be successful.”
Now, his family members will be able to see the fruits of their labor pay off when Kerdiles eventually takes the ice close to home for all of them to see as a hometown hero.