Throughout his Seawolf career Fairbanks born Nick Haddad (6ft, 2in 200lb) has been the embodiment of the unselfish role-oriented hockey player that makes a hockey team go. Without dedicated hard working guys like Nick you simply cannot have success as a hockey team. Not every guy can be the leading goal scorer.
With that in mind, over time Nick carved an important niche for himself as the best penalty killing forward on the team. How many times have we witnessed him driving the puck deep into the opponents end and single-handedly kill off 30 or 40 (or more) seconds? I lost count. It's simply a regular occurrence at this point.
Nick came to UAA from the NAHL's Fairbanks Ice Dogs where he was one of the leading goal scorers on a team that had success on a national level. In 3+ seasons for the Ice Dogs Nick potted 38 goals and 47 assists in 136 total games. In his final season there he scored 25 goals and added 32 assists for 3rd on the team.
In his first season in the Green and Gold Nick played in 26 games and picked up 2 assists with only 4 penalty minutes. He provided valuable energy minutes and began his development to becoming one of the top defensive forwards for the team and in the league.
As a sophomore Nick first began to find that role as a penalty killer. As the season progressed he began to be a more dominant force in that role. He played in 35 games scoring 3 goals with 7 assists. His first career goal came against St. Cloud on February 6th at home in a 3-1 loss. His 2nd goal came 2 games later versus Minnesota at the Sullivan and a couple of weeks later he netted the game winner versus UMD in Duluth. At the end of the year banquet he was named Most Improved Player.
Last season Nick had his best year goal scoring statistically. He skated on the #1 and #2 lines on a few occassions scoring a solid 5 goals and adding 5 assists. But again the predominant most important aspects of his play came as a penalty killer and energy line player. More than a couple of opposition defensemen were tattooed, bruised and battered by Nick in their own zone with his hard charging, physical game.
So far this season, Nick is yet to score a goal. Why? Because he is selfless. He has spent a large part of the season in 5 on 5 situations making room for his linemates to provide secondary scoring. And he has once again established himself as the preeminent penalty killer on the squad. I've seen him on the ice killing penalties for nearly (if not all) of the two minutes at times.
He is a consummate team player. On the defensive end he blocks shots and disrupts passing. He has led more than a few shorthanded odd-man rushes. And "lead" is a great word to associate with Nick. He is a leader that sets a great example for developing players with his unending energy and hard work.
Nick's hockey future above the ECHL level will be dependent on what role he can make for himself on a team. He has the tools to be a consistent 3rd and 4th line contributor and penalty killing specialist at the AHL level. His size and skating ability define that opportunity for him. Beyond that level is certainly possible for a guy who works as hard as Nick does. It's just a matter of the right opportunity on the right team.
I hope the best for every graduating Seawolves player and in Nick's case that is without reservation. I'll miss his contributions. I know UAA fan Suze is always enamored with Nick's play. He is just exactly the sort of player that we fans latch onto and love for his work ethic and effective, unselfish and hard play. Good luck in all your future endeavors Nick. We'll be following your future hockey career with great interest. Now go out this weekend and get a couple of game winning goals against your hometown team eh?