Photo credit: Kyle Mace / Sweetest Hockey on Earth
When head coach Adam Oates sent 22-year-old Nate Schmidt down to Hershey during training camp, he told the defenseman to “always be ready” for a call-up.
Tonight, the prospect will make his debut, filling in for an ailing John Erskine. He will become the third rookie to make his NHL debut for the team this season. Schmidt joins Connor Carrick and Michael Latta, who played in the Caps season opener against the Chicago Blackhawks on October 1st.
While Schmidt (who will be paired with Steve Oleksy against the Colorado Avalanche) told Monumental Network that he’s excited about his debut, he hopes he “got all the jitters out this morning” during the pre-game skate.
“You have to take it as just another game,” Schmidt said. “If you let the game [be] too big for you, you’re going to be a very minuscule part of it.”
Schmidt will play in front of the biggest crowd of his young career on Saturday– a crowed including four of his biggest fans.
Schmidt’s entire family flew to Washington D.C. for the game. His parents Tom and Joanne, as well as his brother Mike flew from their home in Minnesota to be here. His sister Emily went to extraordinary measures to make it.
“My sister, she’s actually a doctor and in med school at Arizona,” Schmidt said. “She was supposed to be in surgery tonight, but her doctor let her out to come to the game. So I’m really excited to see her. That’s really cool.”
When asked by CSN’s Chuck Gormley who had a tougher job, Emily or him, Schmidt responded with a laugh, “I think she does. She used to be completely afraid of needles and everything and now she’s hacking people up.” Well said.
“She works really hard,” Schmidt continued. “I’m really proud of her.”
Now Emily will have the chance to be the same for her brother.