Nikita Nesterenko joins the Ducks and old friend Trevor Zegras

IRVINE — When Nikita Nesterenko arrived for his first day on the job, there was a familiar face in the Anaheim Ducks dressing room Thursday.

Years ago, he and Ducks star Trevor Zegras were teammates on the Fairfield Rangers. In fact, in 2011 the two of them, along with future NHL goaltender Spencer Knight of the Florida Panthers, played for the Connecticut Yankees in a famed Brick Invitational youth tournament in Edmonton.

The only surprising thing?

“We didn’t win the Brick Tournament, unfortunately,” Nesterekno said. “We made it to the semis or finals, I forget.”

So, was the irrepressible Zegras the same then as he is today?

“Oh yeah, he’s a character,” Nesterenko said. “It’s hard not to like him. Great guy. We’ve been keeping in touch, so nothing but good things to say about that guy.”

The transition to the NHL is difficult at the best of times, but it becomes easier if there are friendly faces in the room. In addition to going back more than a decade with Zegras, Nesterenko trains with Ducks goaltender Anthony Stolarz in New Jersey. In his sophomore year, he was roommates at Boston College with defenseman Drew Helleson, who is in AHL San Diego.

Nesterenko’s first Ducks practice on Thursday morning at Great Park Ice was the culmination of a whirlwind stretch of days, starting with Boston College’s season-ending loss Saturday. Nesterenko signed a two-year, entry-level contract with the Ducks on Wednesday and traveled to Southern California, the first time he has been to the region.

“It’s been a long day yesterday – a long week,” Nesterenko said. “After the season ended, the head’s been spinning. People pulling me in different directions.

“I’m super happy to be here. I’m excited to get going.”

Nesterenko, originally drafted by Minnesota in the sixth round in 2019, was part of the package traded …read more

Source:: Los Angeles Daily News

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