Former Xtreme player headed for NHL draft
Coda Gordon has a chance to join an elite group of Airdrie Xtreme alumni at the end of the month.
The Edge School graduate is projected to be selected in the second round of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft, which will be held in Pittsburgh June 22 and 23.
Gordon grew up in Cochrane and played most of his minor hockey in the town before deciding to pursue a career in the sport.
“My parents put me in (hockey) at a young age as soon as I could skate,” he said. “It grew on me and became part of my life. I started to realize that I had a shot if I worked hard and that I could make a career out of it.”
Once he decided to take his hockey career to the next level, Gordon joined the Edge School in Grade 6. The school helped launch the NHL careers of the Toronto Maple Leafs’ Joe Colbourne and Tyler Myers of the Buffalo Sabres.
However, two years later, Gordon suffered a broken femur only five games into the regular season when he was playing with the Bow Valley Timberwolves in Cochrane. He spent five weeks in a full body cast that ran from his ribcage to his ankle and another four weeks with pins in his leg after the cast came off. Once the pins came out, Gordon faced months of rehabilitation to re-strengthen and re-lengthen one of his legs.
“It was a weird, freak accident,” he said. “I got tripped from behind and the way I went into the ice, my leg twisted and snapped. I didn’t know (it was broken) at the time, but I knew something was wrong when I sat up, tried to move my leg and it wouldn’t move.”
It’s an injury that has kept even elite NHL players out for an entire calendar year, but Gordon’s recovery was quick and he returned to finish the last few games of the season with the Timberwolves.
“It was definitely a bummer having to sit back and watch my buddies play, but once the doctor told me that the surgery went well and that I would be able to make a full recovery, I knew it was going to be O.K.,” he said. “When I (came back), I was still limping on the ice and I was definitely more hesitant, but it came over time.”
Gordon played with the Edge Gold Midget AA team during the 2009-2010 season, racking up 20 points in 16 games. The following season he played with the school’s varsity prep team. The team played in the Canadian Sport School Hockey League (CSSHL), where Gordon recorded 39 points in 17 games. It also participated in the Midwest Prep Hockey League (MPHL), which is based out of the U.S. In 16 MPHL games, Gordon scored 11 goals and recorded 12 assists.
This past season, Gordon made his WHL debut with the Swift Current Broncos. The left-winger played 66 games with the team and recorded 53 points.
“It went really well,” he said. “I didn’t really expect any of it. My only goal was to make the team, but right from start it seemed to go my way. (The transition) was a little difficult. It’s a lot quicker paced and I had to adjust, but once I got there, it felt really good.”
His successful season with the Broncos earned Gordon an invite to the NHL Draft Combine, which was held in Toronto May 28 to June 2. The combine put Gordon and 104 other prospects through a number of aerobic and fitness tests, and gave the NHL’s general managers a chance to meet and interview the young players.
“It was pretty cool meeting the NHL teams and doing interviews with them,” Gordon said. “The combine was tough, but it was neat to have people watching and it showed you what the top (NHL players) go through. It was definitely a neat experience.”
By making the jump to the WHL, Gordon joined a lengthy list of Xtreme alumni who have played in the league, but if his name is called on draft day, he’ll join a much shorter list of alumni who have been drafted into the NHL.
Since 1996, only 10 Xtreme players have been drafted into the NHL, including Airdrie’s Zach Boychuk, Dana Tyrell and Ty Rattie.