There is more than one path to success in sports – and one of the Wellington Dukes’ newest signings is living proof.
Born and raised in the County area, Nolan Lane recently committed to his hometown junior team as one of two new goaltenders.
Lane joins an exclusive club as one of only a handful of Wellington players to be signed as a full-time player in team history.
“I had some thoughts that the team was interested in me,” the 19-year-old said.
“It was definitely in the back of my mind where Wellington could be an option this season. I pretty much just worked hard all summer and the opportunity came. I can’t thank everyone enough for all their help and it’s honestly a dream come true.”
As a child and going to games at the old Duke Dome on Niles St. and the current Wellington Arena on Belleville St., Lane got first-hand knowledge of what it was like to be part of a strong, dedicated Dukes fanbase
“The fans in Wellington are the best in junior hockey. You go out there every Friday night and you know, they’re gonna be behind your back every single game.”
The jump to Junior A hockey involved a lot of sacrifice for the youngster.
Lane did not play a single game of AAA hockey in his career, despite trying out for the Quinte Red Devils at various points. The vast majority of players in junior have suited up for at least one season in AAA.
However, he said the disappointment of being cut helped fuel his desire to be a top-notch netminder and teammate with his hometown Prince Edward County Kings.
“I kind of knew that they didn’t want to make much change in their roster and I didn’t really want to go too far away from home. I (stayed) at home and played with my friends. I thought it was better for my development to play every game because I was the only goalie.”
He parlayed that success into a stint with the Picton Pirates in 2021-22, where he won 11 out of the 17 games he appeared in.
After trying out for the Dukes last season, Lane found a space in the Greater Ontario Junior B Hockey League’s Fort Erie Meteors crease to develop.
That decision paid off very well, as he posted 13 wins along with a 2.75 goals-against average and a .906 save percentage in 25 games, helping Fort Erie finish third in their conference and reach the second round of the Sutherland Cup playoffs.
“I can’t thank Fort Erie enough for what they did to me the past year,” he expressed.
In order to prepare for the rigors of a 56-game Ontario Junior Hockey League schedule, Lane said he hit the ice and the gym hard this offseason.
On-ice, he works with his goalie coach twice a week and skates under Vince Tarantino of VT Hockey Development alongside many local junior, college, and professional players.
He has also done dryland workouts three mornings a week with Jackie Jarrell at Gold Performance Training in Corbyville for the past few years, focused on strength and agility.
Lane expressed a desire to use his story of hard work and perseverance to inspire young fans in Wellington.
“As a Wellington hometown kid, I hope I can help out the community,” he said.
“I hope all the young kids can look up to me and just shows them that everyone has a different hockey path.”
He credited his parents Jamie and Tera for their guidance in getting him to the next level.
“My family never pushed me, they just supported me,” he said.
“My dad always said; be the hardest working teammate, give your team everything you got, and make sure you empty the tank every night.”
Lane finished by saying he will give his hometown fans an honest work ethic in games and practices, along with a positive attitude.
Fans can catch Lane and the rest of the Dukes in preseason action on Sept. 1 versus the Cobourg Cougars and again when the team’s season begins on Sept. 8 versus the Toronto Jr. Canadiens.