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First Day of School

by Staff Writer / Anaheim Ducks
Thompson getting ready for a photo shoot on camp's first day.

A moment Ducks fans have been eagerly anticipating for months is finally upon us, as the first day of on-ice training camp opens this morning at The Rinks - Anaheim ICE (all sessions this weekend open to the public). But the 2014 Ducks camp officially opened yesterday at Honda Center, even though none of the Ducks slipped on the equipment.

It was the annual day of physicals, photo shoots and media sessions -- a day that has a "first day of school" feel to it each season. It's a chance to revisit with familiar faces that you haven't seen all summer, one of which -- Corey Perry -- had a perpetual smile on his as he moved from station to station (remarkable considering Perry isn't normally much of a  smiler.)

It's also a chance to get to know some of the newer faces who have become Ducks over the summer, one of whom this camp is likeable (and amply bearded) center Nate Thompson.

While the trade with Vancouver for center Ryan Kesler was Anaheim's biggest splash of the offseason, the move to acquire the veteran Thompson (for a 4th-round and 7th-round pick) was a key depth acquisition for the Ducks. Thompson is a workhorse who chipped in nine goals and 16 points in 81 games for the Lightning last season, and while that's interesting enough, Ducks fans obviously know very little about the personal side of him. (Here's a video interview with him from yesterday as well.)

Thompson actually hails from Anchorage, Alaska, and still heads back there a bit in the offseason. Here is his take on growing up there, as well as a few other personal preferences, which includes fly fishing (at left is a photo of a pretty decent catch, which is his Twitter profile photo):

About Anchorage
It’s about 250,000 to 300,000 people, but it’s kind of spread out and has a smaller feel to it.  It was a great place to grow up because it’s all about hockey there, but there is so much to do in the winter and summer, especially if you’re an outdoors person. I grew up fishing all the time and all of that stuff. I still have a lot of close friends up there, and I still call it home.

On the hockey in Alaska,
It’s definitely the No. 1 sport up there. There are a good amount of guys in the NHL from Alaska. Scott Gomez is the one who put us on the map, but you’ve got Matt Carle, Brandon Dubinsky, Joey Crabb, Tim Wallace, Ty Conklin, to name a few. There are definitely some good players from there.

On the biggest misconception about Alaska,
Everyone thinks we’re Eskimos and we ride our dogsleds to school and around town. That’s definitely not the case.

Favorite NHL player growing up
I was a big Steve Yzerman fan, just for how he played and what he did for the Detroit organization.

Favorite hockey moment of your career
There are a couple. My first NHL goal was a pretty special one. It was in New York and on [Henrik] Lundqvist.  I scored two goals in a game last year, and the second one was an overtime winner, so that was pretty special too.

Pregame superstitions
I put all my equipment on left side first.

Favorite movie
A River Runs Through It

Favorite TV shows
Modern Family, Sons of Anarchy and Game of Thrones

Favorite band
Pearl Jam

Someone on your iPod you’re ashamed of
Justin Bieber

Celebrity crush
Kate Beckinsale. “Cogs” [Andrew Cogliano] said that too? That’s my man right there. I like that. [Cogliano walks by and gets a fist bump from Thompson.]

Who would play you in a movie about your life?
Let’s go with Christian Bale.

Favorite food
Italian

Favorite Orange County restaurants
I’ve been to a few so far, and I’ve liked them all. Bear Flag Fish Co. is really good.

Secret talent
Fly fishing

Favorite vacation spot
Italy

How you spent the summer
I went home to Alaska for a fishing trip and saw some family. I went on another fishing trip in Northern Ontario for some walleye. Other than that, I spent my summer with my wife in Minneapolis, where she’s from. We went to her parents' cabin. That’s where we spend most of our summers.


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