Nummela Looking to Follow Teammate into the ECHL
Jack Nummela, Uxbridge native playing Co-op hock for northbridge high school is aiming for the Worcester Railers hockey team, part of the prestigious AA East Coast Hockey League.
By Christopher Tremblay, Staff Sports Writer
Although only a senior from Uxbridge playing high school co-op hockey for Northbridge, Jack Nummela is hoping to follow Derek Lewis, his last year’s teammate, into the East Coast Hockey League once he graduates.
Nummela, who has been playing hockey with his linemates Joe Sullivan and Brett Flanders (both from Nipmuc High School) for some time now, have all been talking and practicing with the Worcester Railers, a New York Islanders affiliate. And although his is not sure about his two friends, Nummela is certain that he wants to give the Railers a shot once his high school playing days are over.
The ECHL is a premier AA hockey team where 676 players have gone on to play in the National Hockey League after beginning their careers in the league.
Growing up, Nummela believes that he first laced up his skates at the age of two when his dad, who has been a hockey coach, built the family a rink in the backyard. It was about four years later when he had to venture outside of his hometown to play youth hockey for Tri Valley, as Uxbridge didn’t have any hockey programs.
Throughout his early years, the Uxbridge resident found himself playing center and left wing for his youth teams, but once he joined his last club team, the Minutemen Flames, he found himself on the defensive side of the ice. As he enters his final season with the Northbridge co-op team he may find himself back on the blueline for the first time in his high school career.
“The last few years I have been playing left wing for Northbridge, but with four senior defenders graduating there is going to be a big hole on defense this year,” Nummela said. “I don’t mind playing defense; in fact, I feel like I am built to play there. While the coach hasn’t actually said I’ll be playing there just yet, I have been getting ready to take on the role this season.”
When Nummela was set to enter high school, he found out that the Spartans didn’t have a hockey team of their own, instead they were part of a five-school co-op team where Northbridge was the home team under Coach Ryan Neville. Needless to say, when it came time to try out for the team, the Uxbridge native found that he really didn’t know all that much about the team. Once thing he did know was that Northbridge was coming off a State Championship season.
“I really didn’t know what to expect, the only good thing was that my two buddies (Sullivan and Flanders) who I’ve played with pretty much my entire hockey life were there also,” Nummela said. “Making the varsity team as a left winger was great and the boys welcomed us to the team and helped us a bunch. It was an easy fit.”
Although he went into the season somewhat skeptical and timid he had fun during his first campaign and came away learning a lot. The team struggled at times that season, but over the past two years they have steadily improved and the now senior believes the team has what it takes to put together their best season on the ice.
“I consider myself to be a physical player, not as flashy as Joe and Brett, but I can hold my own on the ice,” he said. “The three of us have played on the same line and have a really good chemistry together, I really expect a successful season this year.”
As the season gets closer to starting the senior has high hopes that Northbridge will put together a better record than last year’s while working more as a unit instead of individually.
As a captain he has been part of running the practices during the early months and is trying to get the team to get together outside of the rink to form a bond between the players as well as building a better team chemistry. Nummela is also looking forward to getting the team to work hard on the ice and focus on the game at hand and not worrying about the tournament until the time comes.
Along with Flanders and Sullivan, he is hoping that all three can be in the upper echelon of the league when it comes to scoring. The trio each posted 20-25 points last winter and Nummela is hoping that they can all add to their totals this year.
If the captains’ practices continue to go well the Northbridge hockey team has the capability to have a good season if they continue to play as a whole.