Airdrie Xtreme alumni is now a Calgary Flames prospect
It’s a moment every young hockey player dreams of: when their name is called in the NHL Entry Draft.
For a former Airdrie Xtreme forward, being drafted into the NHL came with an added bonus. The team that chose him was the one that played just a stone’s throw from his hometown.
Cochrane’s Coda Gordon was chosen 165th overall in the sixth round of the 2012 NHL Draft by the Calgary Flames.
“It was amazing,” Gordon said. “I’ve never felt anything like that. To be picked by any team is great, but to be picked by the Flames is huge. To go to a hometown team was definitely neat.”
However, with great power comes great responsibility, just like being drafted comes with added pressure, which Gordon realized would accompany him into his sophomore WHL season. The expectations began even before the draft when the rankings had Gordon projected to go as early as the second round, but the young winger was just happy to be picked.
“I’d heard about (the draft rankings), but I knew I wasn’t to go that high,” he said. “I was just focused on going. I couldn’t have cared less where I ended up. It was all pretty special. I knew the pressure was going to come, but I’ve tried not to focus on it as best as I could.”
Some WHL players wait years, even more than the four or five years junior players are eligible to play in the league, for their ticket to the NHL. For Gordon, it took only a year. The 18-year-old made his debut with the Swift Current Broncos last September. In his rookie season, his 53 points in 66 games was good for second on the team and eighth among first-year players.
“It seems like yesterday that I was just trying to make the team and now it’s already a year-and-a-half in,” he said. “It’s definitely been a big change, but a fun ride.”
After a whirlwind 12 months, Gordon is settling back into a familiar routine with the Broncos. While he said the first quarter of the 2012-2013 season came with it’s share of “ups and downs,” Gordon came out of the gate on a point-per-game pace and is back in second place in team scoring with six goals and 16 assists behind linemate Adam Lowry, the son of former Flames assistant coach Dave Lowry.
Chemistry with Lowry has been a driving force behind Gordon’s strong start to the season, he said, but it’s also been the awareness that if he’s going to take that next step, he has to improve.
“(Being drafted) is a little step, but I’m not there yet,” he said. “I have to make the improvements to keep moving up in the organization. I’ve just been focusing on improving my game, my speed and anything else I can. I knew that if I picked up that, everything else would get going.”