2021 mu18wc nolan allan

Son of Davidson

Nolan Allan’s path to the 2021 IIHF U18 World Championship was built on small-town roots with near-unlimited access to ice and community support

Jamie Umbach
April 28, 2021

Head southeast out of Saskatoon towards Regina on Highway 11 and you’ll pass the small farming town of Davidson about 104 kilometres into your journey.

Coming into town, you’ll see the world’s largest coffee pot that’s symbolic of the town’s hospitality and reputation as the traditional midway point between the province’s two largest cities.

All the amenities you’d expect to see in a small-town Saskatchewan pitstop, including the gas stations, Tim Hortons and local restaurants, sit on the south side of town where the Louis Riel Trail continues on for the next 146 kilometres until you reach the Queen City.

Despite its regular stream of through traffic along the well-travelled highway, the residents that occupy the homes and surrounding farms of Davidson – including National Men’s Under-18 Team defenceman Nolan Allan, siblings Blake, Evhan, Kacie and Rylyn, and parents Kim and Kelly – are well-accustomed to their neighbours from their frequent interactions around town at places like the recreation centre or the community market.

“We have a family farm about 20 minutes outside of town,” Allan says. “We fit right in.”

The 18-year-old (his birthday is Wednesday) is one of eight blueliners to earn the call to represent Canada at the 2021 IIHF U18 World Championship, and the lone representative from The Land of the Living Skies.

“The town is around a thousand people and a real tight-knit community. Everybody knows each other,” Allan adds. “I’ve had the same friends since I was four years old going to kindergarten. You grow up together and play all the sports together.”

It may be a small highway town situated in rural south-central Saskatchewan, but Davidson has served as a crucial junction in providing the roadmap for the Prince Albert Raiders rearguard to showcase himself at the U18 worlds before the all-important 2021 NHL Draft this summer.

The local rink, part of a larger recreation complex now named the Davidson AGT Centre, bears an unconscious familiarity to the many other small community facilities scattered across Western Canada. Advertisements for farms, construction companies and commercial services adorn the walls above the benches that sit opposite the one-sided grey bleachers that loom over the large Olympic-sized ice surface. The lobby wraps the boards on both sides up to the goal line, and the chairs flush with the glass on the side safe from body checks and flying pucks couldn’t get you any closer.

Allan remembers starting to skate at the age of four at the rink with his parents and older brother Blake, who played against him as a member of the Regina Pats during the 2019-20 WHL season before joining the Calgary Hitmen this year.

With plenty of access to recreational opportunities in Davidson – dubbed a ‘Community in Motion’ – Allan became a regular at public skates between the end of the school day and the start of minor hockey practice as part of Davidson Minor Hockey.

Today, he relies on his steady defensive game, moving through transition with a smart first pass and strong mobility for his 6-foot-2, 195-pound frame – elements of his game he attributes to all that extra time in between school and practice spent at the rink.

“Every day after school there was free ice up until five o’clock, and that’s when practice started,” Allan says. “It was a public skate and anyone could go out there. We’d take pucks and pretty much do whatever we wanted, so it was pretty nice to have that time to skate and work on things whenever you needed it.”

When Allan made inroads into U15 hockey and joined the Humboldt AA Broncos, he became reliant on those highways and his selfless parents sacrificing countless hours driving the 163 kilometres to practices and games.

“It was an hour-and-a-half drive one way there, so I was pretty reliant on my parents driving me,” Allan says. “We’d have to leave right after school and wouldn’t get back until around midnight, so it was a pretty tough schedule.”

There would, however, be respite for Kim and Kelly the following season.

“My second year, we had a few guys from around Davidson make the team as well. We were able to carpool that year, so that was a big relief.”

Allan was a dominant force offensively during his second season in Humboldt and performed nearly at a point-per-game pace from the blueline the following year with the Saskatoon U18 AAA Blazers (12 goals, 35 points in 39 games) to earn SMAAAHL Top Defenceman honours after being selected third overall by Prince Albert in 2018.

With less time spent driving two skilled sons around Saskatchewan, parents Kim and Kelly could devote more time to deciding how to cheer for both of them in games between the Raiders and Hitmen during Nolan’s rookie WHL season.

“Playing against my brother for the first time in the WHL was kind of weird,” Allan says. “We grew up playing with each other up until [U15] when he left for there, so it was odd being on the other side of the ice against him.

“I think my parents might’ve been more confused than either of us for who to cheer for there. They find ways to cheer for both of us.”

All roads now for Allan lead to Texas and his role patrolling the blueline to secure a gold medal for his country alongside talented teammates that share similar journeys from community rinks.

A good showing for defenceman and country can help translate to a higher NHL draft stock; Allan had a ‘B’ rating from Central Scouting in its most recent Players to Watch list, meaning he is a candidate to be selected within the first three rounds.

“It’s Team Canada, so it’s always going to be a talented roster,” he says. “We expect to win of course, as we do every year, so we’re just hoping to gel together and come out on top.”

For more information:

Esther Madziya
Manager, Communications
Hockey Canada

(403) 284-6484 

Spencer Sharkey
Manager, Communications
Hockey Canada

(403) 777-4567

Jeremy Knight
Manager, Corporate Communications
Hockey Canada

(647) 251-9738

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