It’s nearly 3000 miles from Long Island to Portland. But ‘El Nino’ has finally headed west.
To the Western Hockey League, that is.
After a nine game stint with the New York Islanders, Nino Niederreiter was returned to the Portland Winterhawks, bolstering the roster of a team that is already ranked third in the nation with a 12-2-0-1 record.
But he didn’t leave without some memories, and perhaps some added motivation for next season.
“Definitely my first goal when I scored against the Washington Capitals was my best feeling ever,” Niederreiter told the WHL Radio Show. “(The Puck is) still in New York. They’re going to make a big picture with it. It’s going to be great.”
It wasn’t just Niederreiter’s lone NHL goal or two points he recorded during the duration of his stint with the Islanders. The World Junior All-Star admitted he found himself a bit starstruck lining up against some of the game’s top talent.
“When you’re playing against Ovechkin, Crosby all the big guys and I was a part of it it was an unbelievable feeling being there,” Niederreiter said. “Last year playing video games and you think ‘wow he’s unreal’ and then next month you play against those guys, it was just great.”
Living in a hotel since training camp, Neiderreiter’s return to Portland wasn’t unexpected. He was promptly returned to Portland after playing in his ninth game. A 10th game would kick in the first year of his three-year pact with the Islanders, making him eligible for restricted free agency a year early.
“I expected to be back but it was a great experience and I was just living the dream up there.”
Niederreiter, drafted fifth overall in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, bolsters a roster already rich in talent including fourth overall selection Ryan Johansen, 43rd overall pick Brad Ross and potential 2011 first rounder Ty Rattie.
With such an impressive roster the club has Memorial Cup aspirations, held this year in Mississauga.
Mississauga is 2600 miles from Portland.
But with Niederreiter back in the fold, it’s that much closer for the Winterhawks.
Aaron Vickers is the managing editor of Future Considerations and can be found on Twitter. For all the latest Future Considerations news and posts, follow FC’s Official Twitter Feed, on YouTube and on Facebook!