Petan shares special moment with family

BOSTON – Once the NCAA Division I hockey season begins, there is precious little time for both players and coaches to get away from the rink and enjoy a relaxing moment with family. However, Michigan Tech Huskies co-captain Alex Petan got the chance to do just that last Thursday. He traveled to Boston to see his younger brother’s NHL debut with the Winnipeg Jets.

“It was a pretty cool night,” said Petan. “It was really nice to get out there.”

Nicolas grew up with Alex and with former Huskies’ center, Jujhar Khaira. Rather than follow in his big brother’s footsteps and go to the British Columbia Hockey League and then on to college, Nicolas made the jump from the British Columbia Major Midget League to the Portland Winterhawks.

In his second full season with Winterhawks, the younger Petan jumped from 14 goals and 35 points to 46 goals and 120 points while playing on a line with Brendan Leipsic and Ty Rattie. All three were drafted, but Rattie was the first to make his NHL debut with the St. Louis Blues.

Nicolas was drafted after that season by the Jets, and played two more seasons with the Winterhawks. The first season, he was an alternate captain, the second he was the captain.

This season, Nicolas had a very strong camp with the Jets, notching a pair of assists. He made the opening night roster due to his efforts.

“Early last week they made their final cuts,” said Petan of the Jets. “I think it was either Monday or Tuesday when I got a text from him saying that he made the team. It was a pretty cool feeling, obviously for him, but also for me. I am very proud of him and all of his hard work definitely paid off.”

After getting the news, Alex requested the opportunity to head over to see his brother’s debut. Huskies head coach Mel Pearson was hesitant, to say the least.

“Alex asked us if he could go out and see Nic play,” said Pearson. “I had mixed feelings because we are trying to get our team going and Alex is a big part of it. We are trying to get him in games and get him off to a good start this year because he’s such a big part of our team.”

Pearson discussed the special opportunity with the rest of the Huskies’ captains, who all agreed that that Alex should have the chance, as they would all want the same thing if it was their family.

“We also wanted to send the right message to our team,” said Pearson. “Our team is important. At the same time, we asked our captains how they felt and they thought the team would feel. It’s their team, it’s not our team as coaches. They felt it would be fine. So that’s good.”

Alex flew to Boston, and spent the game with his parents. Not only did his brother play, but 10:09 remaining in regulation, Nicolas scored his first career goal when Andrew Copp’s shot ricocheted off of his skate and in the net, creating a memory that will last forever.

“It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see my little brother in his first game,” said Petan. “It was nice to get out there and spend the day with my mom and dad…I got to see Nic afterwards as well. It was a pretty neat feeling to get that opportunity.”

Alex returned to the Houghton area around noon on Friday, so the coaching staff decided to let him rest during the Friday night game against Laurentian. He was in the lineup on Saturday, and he matched his brother’s debut with a goal of his own on the power play.

With his brother now playing in the league they both dreamed of, Alex finds himself looking to his younger brother for advice, instead of the other way around, not that he minds.

“I am so proud of him, but it also motivates me and my career path,” said Petan. “I want to play professional hockey. He knows what it takes to get there. As I am sure he looked up to me his whole life, I am now looking up to him, getting the insight on what it takes to get to that level.”

The Huskies will count on Alex’s offense this season. He is expected to be a key component of their chase of a Western Collegiate Hockey Association title.