Story by Jeff D’Andrea with panow.com
Prince Albert’s Nathan Flodell will represent his country this summer with Canada’s Men’s Deaflympic Hockey Team. Team Canada will head to Chicago to play a pair of exhibition games on June 18–19 against the United States.
Flodell finished his 18-year-old rookie season in the Manitoba Junior Hockey League with the Portage Terriers, scoring two goals and four points in 20 games, as the Terriers missed the MJHL playoffs by just one point. Flodell started the year with the Flin Flon Bombers in the SJHL, where his older brother Matt played four years and finished his SJHL career as the team’s captain.
Flodell had a chance to catch up with paNOW sports editor Jeff D’Andrea after his selection to Canada’s Deaflympic team, and ahead of the exhibition matches in Chicago.
Jeff D’Andrea: What was your initial reaction when you were selected to play with the Canadian Men’s Deaflympic Hockey Team to play in Chicago this summer? How excited are you to get going?
Nathan Flodell: When I was picked to be part of the Canadian National Deaf Men’s Hockey program to play two exhibition games in Chicago, I was super pumped and honored to represent my country. This program is preparing for the Deaflympics and World Deaf Ice Hockey Championships in the future, and I hope to be part of those teams.
JD: Have you previously been involved with the Deaflympics?
NF: No, I haven’t been involved with Deaflympics before, but I hope to be part of the program for a long time.
JD: What was it like to grow up in a hockey household, especially with your older brother Matt making his way through the AAA and Junior A before you? And seeing Logan and all the success he’s had as well?
NF: Hockey is a big part of our life and we used to play mini-sticks every day in the basement when we were kids. Matt and Logan are big role models for Ty and I. It’s pretty cool to follow in my brothers’ steps and play junior hockey. I hope to play college hockey too.
JD: How does your hearing impairment affect your everyday life? What adjustments do you have to make for hockey, as well?
NF: I use my other senses like visual cues and lip-reading to help my difficult time hearing people. I’m glad I have good friends, family, and my girlfriend that helps me to understand what’s going on in conversations that I miss. In hockey, I do really pay attention to what’s going on and listen hard for the whistles. I have to play heads up, so I know what’s going on around me and I watch what other players are doing.
JD: Have those been difficult for you to navigate?
NF: Not really, but a couple of times I didn’t hear the whistle and kept playing. I get in a bit of trouble [laughs].
JD: You started the season in Flin Flon. I’ve only visited once for a weekend and that place and the rink are absolutely wild. Although you only spent four games with the team, what was that like to play there and be a part of the Bombers?
NF: I was there for couple of months, I played four games and it was incredible to play in the Whitney Forum where guys like Bobby Clarke played. The home opener was awesome, the fans are always loud and got us pumped up. I’m glad to have been part of Bombers this year and wish them luck in playoffs.
JD: After the trade to the Portage Terriers, you finished out your season there. How do you feel you fit in with that group and how did the rest of the season go?
NF: Portage is a great organization to be part of. We have a young team and great bunch of guys; we just missed the playoffs this year by two points. I plan on training hard this summer and hope to play a bigger role with the team next year. We are also hosting nationals next year.
JD: What is your favourite thing about hockey?
NF: I grew up loving to play hockey and playing shinny with my dad and my brothers. My favourite part of hockey is scoring goals and playing the game with my teammates.