When goaltender Rob Nichols left his home in Dallas, TX at the age of 17, he began a journey that took him from one end of the country to the other, setting records and getting a college education along the way. His brilliant playing career shortened by injuries, he is no longer active as a player but still holds almost every Wenatchee Wild goaltending record. (View records here –> WILD GOALIE RECORDS )
His first taste of hockey after starring at the Jesuit College Prep School on the high school circuit in Dallas was with the Colorado Thunderbirds U18 in the Denver suburb of Morrison, CO. His sparkling record there helped pave the way to Wenatchee where he continued to shine. In his first season, he set an NAHL record with 10 shutouts and led the league in both goals against average (1.49) and save percentage (.938). He shared the NAHL’s Goaltender of the Year and Rookie of the Year awards with future NHL star Connor Hellebuyck. He returned to Wenatchee the following season to record an additional six shutouts and earn a spot on the NAHL All-West Division team.
Nichols owns the franchise records for career wins (55) and shares the single season wins mark (31) with Anthony Yamnitsky. He has the lowest goals against average for both career (1.90) and single season (1.49). His save percentage for career (.920) and single season (.938) also top the books. The only record he no longer owns is the consecutive shutout time mark, which was surpassed by Anthony Yamnitsky (181:57).
After Wenatchee, Nichols headed to college at the University of Connecticut to pursue a degree in Civil Engineering. He put up tremendous numbers and was named team MVP as a sophomore but the game had taken a toll on his body, and he would require not one but two hip surgeries a month apart over the summer. His numbers were still outstanding for his junior and senior seasons. He had the opportunity to get into the pro game with the Utah Grizzlies (ECHL) but an injury sustained in his first game signaled the end of his playing career. He announced his retirement from the game via his Instagram two weeks later.