By JEFF HELMINIAK
Nate Thompson became the third Alaskan to play in 800 NHL games when he took the ice for the Winnipeg Jets in a 3-0 loss to the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday in Winnipeg, Manitoba.
Thompson, 36, was born in Anchorage. His father, Dr. Robert Thompson, moved to Soldotna in 2003 and has been practicing medicine there ever since. Thompson’s mother, Cathy Thompson-Liddelow, still lives in Anchorage.
The other two Alaska players to make it to 800 games are Scott Gomez, who ended up with 1,079 games, and Brandon Dubinsky, who has 823 games.
“He’s playing some of the best hockey I’ve ever seen him play,” Thompson said of his son. “I’m his dad. I’ve been watching him in the NHL for 14 years. He’s making more plays and spending more time in the offensive zone.
“It’s remarkable how he continues to improve.”
Thompson said every game is an accomplishment in the NHL, noting his son has come back from several severe injuries in order to extend his career.
“He’s earned it and he’s worked for it,” Thompson said. “I’m proud of him.”
Thompson traveled to see his son play in his 500th, 600th and 700th NHL games. With Saturday’s game happening in Canada during the coronavirus pandemic, Thompson chose not to travel due to all the travel restrictions involved.
Nate Thompson is a 6-foot-1, 205-pound center who shoots left-handed. His father said one reason Nate keeps getting NHL contracts is because teams see Nate making plays that lead to winning hockey in the postseason.
This season, Nate has two goals and three assists in 33 games, and also is plus-4. Nate has 64 goals and 97 assists in his career.
“His goal is to make it to 1,000 games,” Thompson said of his son.