Jordan Sigalet’s love of hockey was so strong he wanted to remain in the sport once his playing career ended in 2009.
His passion became coaching.
And it’s earned the former Falcon a return to the National Hockey League.
Sigalet — one of the best goalies in Bowling Green history — recently was named the goaltending coach of the NHL’s Calgary Flames.
He’s starting his fourth season in the Flames’ organization. He spent the last three seasons as the goaltending coach for Calgary’s American Hockey League affiliate in Abbotsford, British Columbia.
Prior to that, he was the goaltending coach for the Everett (Washington) Silvertips in the Major Junior A Western Hockey League.
“I’m really excited,” said Sigalet, who remains BG’s career leader in save percentage.
Sigalet had a .915 save percentage in 102 games from 2001-05. His 2.98 goals-against average still is the third-best Falcon history.
“There were a lot of good candidates with NHL experience who applied for the job and for them to give me the chance without coaching in the NHL, it’s a huge honor.”
Sigalet was a first-team All-Central Collegiate Hockey Association selection in 2004 as a junior and a second-team honoree as a senior.
He also was a finalist for the Hobey Baker Award in 2005. The award is presented annually to college hockey’s most outstanding player. He earned his bachelor’s degree from BG in computer animation.
“I’m not going to go in and change any style or what they do,” Sigalet said. “Being pretty fresh out of the game and a younger goalie coach, hopefully that can rub off on them and I can help them become better goalies.
“The NHL was my ultimate goal when I started coaching, but I never knew if I would achieve that goal or not. I was very happy in the role I was in. I was very happy to see guys reach their dreams of reaching the NHL and helping them achieve that.”
Had Sigalet not been named the Flames’ goaltending coach, he would have remained the goaltending coach of their AHL affiliate. The AHL team relocated to Glens Falls in upstate New York during the offseason.
“It’s a great organization. They’ve treated me really well the last three years,” Sigalet said.
Although the British Columbia native is only 33, he feels he’s up to the challenge — despite his age and having no NHL coaching experience.
Sigalet played in the Boston Bruins’ organization from 2005-2008, spending most of his time with the AHL’s Providence Bruins. He was a seventh-round draft pick of Boston in 2001.
His only NHL appearance came Jan. 7, 2006 when he played the final 43 seconds in a relief stint against the Tampa Bay Lightning. He faced no shots in the Bruins’ 6-3 win.
Sigalet also served as the backup goalie for the Bruins in 10 games before playing against the Lightning.
He played in Russia and Austria during the 2008-09 seasons before retiring.
NHL training camps open Sept. 18.
“I’m 100 percent ready,” Sigalet said of coaching in the NHL. “I know there are some people who probably don’t think I am because of my age and lack of experience, but the only way to get experience is to be given a chance. I’ll do the best job I can.
“I really think (the Flames) liked my philosophy in coaching, that I’m not going to come in and change each goalie and reinvent the wheel. We’ll work with each guy’s strengths.”
Sigalet was one of BG’s hardest working and most respected players on the team, and was popular with players, coaches and fans alike. He also was selected as a team captain.
“I think (the Flames) liked my demeanor and attitude, and my work ethic,” Sigalet said. “ I’ve worked a lot of hours the last few years and we’ve had a lot of goalies go up from Abbotsford to Calgary and perform pretty well. Just my track record, and my personality and my approach to the game helped land me the job.
“My age can help me. Being at that age and retiring not all that long ago, I’ll be able to relate to them on their level.”
Sigalet is familiar with Calgary’s top three goalies — Karri Ramo, Jonas Hiller and Joni Ortio.
“I know most of them pretty well, watching video of the guys,” Sigalet said. “That was one of my big things before the interviews. I watched a ton of film of the guys before the interview and did a lot of goal breakdowns, so I had good feel for them and I could speak about it during the interview.”
Calgary finished 27th in points in the 30-team NHL last season.
“I’m looking forward to giving back to (the Flames) and helping this team get headed in the right direction,” Sigalet said, adding he watched video of all three goalies before he interviewed with the Flames.
Sigalet originally hoped to start his coaching career with the Falcons, but former head coach Scott Paluch and current head coach Chris Bergeron could only offer a volunteer position.
“At that point in my life, I wasn’t going to take a volunteer position because of the financial position I was in,” Sigalet said. “(BG) is a great place and it was hard to say no to those volunteer positions, but maybe sometime down the road in the future, I could see myself back there in the in some shape or form.”
He later accepted the coaching position with Everett.
“I thought with my health, coaching would be a lot easier on my body, a lot less stress and physical exertion,” said Sigalet, who was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in March 2004.
He collapsed face first onto the ice during an AHL game against Worcester In November 2007. He was taken off the ice on a stretcher and hospitalized, although he was conscious when he left the arena.
Sigalet has since become a spokesman and an advocate for fighting MS, which is a neurological disease. He first noticed something was wrong when he noticed his foot was numb following a series against Northern Michigan in February 2004.
Less than 24 hours later, his whole body went numb and he eventually was diagnosed with MS.
According to the National MS web site, the disease can cause blurred vision, loss of balance, poor coordination, slurred speech, tremors, numbness, extreme fatigue, problems with memory and concentration, paralysis, and blindness.
But Sigalet continued to play for almost six years after being diagnosed with MS.
“There’s stress in coaching, but it’s a different kind of stress now,” Sigalet said. “I thought it was the right time to step away and become involved 100 percent in coaching. When that chance came up, I applied for it and never looked back.”
Sigalet and his wife, Lindsay, and their sons, ages 3 and 1, will move to Calgary. Sigalet and his wife met at BGSU. She is the former Lindsay Wiley and is from Marion, Ohio.
“My health has been great,” Sigalet said. “Since I stopped playing, all of that physical exertion, mental stress of the game, it’s let me relax a lot more. I’ve had no issues since I stopped playing which has been great. I still have some symptoms and side effects from my medications, but nothing major.”
Sigalet’s brother, Jonathan, is still playing professional hockey. He’s starting his fourth season as a defenseman in the Kontinental Hockey League. He’s been playing in Bratislava, Slovakia.
He was a defenseman at BG during the 2003-04 and 2004-05 seasons before leaving school early to sign with the Boston organization.
And Jordan Sigalet still has fond memories of his time with the NHL Bruins.
“My three years in the Boston organization were unbelievable,” Sigalet said. “They treated me really well there. I had a lot going on with my health when I was there and they were huge supporters of mine.
“I’ll never forget stepping on the ice at the TD Garden (the team’s home arena) and fulfilling a childhood dream. Obviously, you want to play every game and have a long career, and that didn’t happen, but just to get there and have the dream come true is pretty special.
“I just learned how to be a pro and it made me a better person. I learned what it took to make the NHL and what it took to stay there, to be a regular there.”