From Mini Hockey to St. Cloud to the Capitals – How Nic Dowd Got into Hockey and His Early Career

Photo: John McCreary/NHLI via Getty Images

Washington Capitals center Nic Dowd appeared on a recent episode of the Spittin’ Chiclets podcast and discussed a variety of topics from family life to playing with the Capitals and his former teams. In his seventh career season, the Alabama native shared the story of how he got into the sport of hockey.

Nic has two older brothers who were coached under their father. Playing mini hockey with his brothers in the basement sparked interest for Nic. Until he was fifteen, he played youth hockey with the Huntsville Amateur Hockey Association. “We travel around and play Nashville, Knoxville, Memphis, Atlanta, maybe a little bit of Birmingham,” Nic said.

Growing up close to Nashville, Tennessee, Nic said his family was “definitely Predators fans.” “Every Christmas, our Dad would take us up to watch a Preds game…we got to watch all the big-time players, which was great.”

He and a few friends from youth leagues eventually went to the Culver Academies boarding school in Indiana and played on the junior varsity team. Nic noted he was only 5’3 and weighed 110 lbs. “Because I was so little at the time, I had to develop a lot of different stuff in order to keep up with the rest of the game.”

After his time at Culver, Nic went on to play for the St. Louis Bandits and Wenatchee Wild junior teams in the North American Hockey League (NAHL). He went back to Indiana to play for the Ice in the United States Hockey League (USHL). In the 2009 NHL Draft, Nic was chosen by the Los Angeles Kings in the seventh round (198th overall).

The 2010-11 season saw Nic with the Huskies at St. Cloud State University in Minnesota. He called his time at St. Cloud “a lot of fun,” recording 121 points (52 goals) in 155 games over his four-year collegiate career. Nic was a Hobey Baker finalist in 2014 as a top player for the NCAA when he posted 40 points (22 goals).

The Kings signed him to an entry-level contract on April 1, 2014, but Nic spent a majority of the time in the AHL, where he picked up 48 points with the Ontario Reign and won a Calder Cup with the Manchester Monarchs. He made his NHL debut on March 22, 2016.

Nic played 70 games with Los Angeles the following season and recorded six goals and 22 points. He was traded to the Vancouver Canucks on December 8, 2017, scoring three goals during his 40-game tenure in Vancouver.

On July 1, 2018, Washington signed him to a one-year contract as an unrestricted free agent. Eleven months later, the Capitals signed him for three more years.

Nic mentioned how much he enjoys the city by visiting museums and monuments and, of course, playing at Capital One Arena. “I think one of the coolest things is you’re driving to home games and you pass the White House, the monument…you’re on Constitution Avenue just to go right to your game and it’s a pretty surreal feeling.”

The 31-year-old is in his fourth NHL season with Washington and was re-signed on Sunday to a three-year contract extension. He spoke to the media about the deal, his love for the organization and the city, and his success under head coach Peter Laviolette:

“A big part of this deal was this does take me until I’m 35. You look around the league and comparables of that age and I just felt I didn’t want to have to make that choice of ‘Hey, let’s just pick my family up and move them somewhere else and then maybe look for another deal when I’m 36’. Also, I just love this team, I love the guys. The core group is obviously wrapped up for a while, and obviously Lavy has a lot to do with it.”

Nic is the third player from Alabama to play in the NHL (Aud Tutun, Jared Ross). Additionally, he became the first Alabamian to score a playoff overtime game-winner in the NHL.

By Della Young

About Della Young

Della Young is an aspiring novelist and screenwriter who earned a BFA in Creative Writing from Full Sail University in 2021. She is currently pursuing a Master of Arts in Screenwriting from Regent University. Della comes from a family of big Capitals fans and became inspired to start writing for hockey in 2019. In her spare time, she enjoys traveling, cooking, and working on both sides of the camera. Follow Della on Twitter: @dellayoung
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