Josh Nodler
Josh Nodler

Nodler is joining a program on the rise.

The next stop on Josh Noder’s hockey journey is the University of Massachusetts.

The center from Oak Park, who announced his verbal commitment to Michigan State University when he was a sophomore at Berkley High School, is transferring to UMass after spending the first three years of his collegiate career at Michigan State.

UMass checked all the boxes for Nodler. Winning program. Good facilities, coaches and academics. He’ll be able to remain a computer science major.

“And they’ve proven they can develop guys to play at the next level,” said Nodler, a 2019 draftee of the NHL’s Calgary Flames who will remain the Flames’ property for one more season.

Nodler said coaches from about a dozen Division I programs contacted him after he entered the NCAA’s transfer portal in early April.

One call, a day or so after Nodler put his name into the portal, came from UMass associate coach Jared DeMichiel.

“That call drew me into UMass,” Nodler said.

A few other colleges were “semi-intriguing,” Nodler said, but UMass eventually became his choice.

Nodler hopes to have a great senior season.

He didn’t set the world on fire at Michigan State, compiling just 34 points in 99 games over three seasons.

And the Spartans struggled as a team during Nodler’s tenure, going 34-60-5 including 12-22-1 this season.

Michigan State won NCAA titles in 1986 and 2007, but hasn’t qualified for the NCAA tournament since 2012, the second-longest drought in program history.

Nodler is joining a program on the rise.

UMass won its first NCAA and Hockey East tournament championships in the 2020-21 season. The Minutemen repeated as Hockey League tourney winners this season.

Coach Greg Carvel is 116-88-12 in his six seasons at UMass, with 49 of the 88 losses coming in his first two seasons. The Minutemen were 22-13-2 this season.

Eleven of Carvel’s former UMass players are NHL draftees.

Michigan State has changed coaches since Nodler entered the transfer portal. Danton Cole is out after five unsuccessful seasons (58-101-12) and Adam Nightingale is in.

An extensive renovation project at Munn Arena, the Spartans’ home, will be completed before next season.

Those developments weren’t enough to convince Nodler to stay in East Lansing.

“It was a difficult decision for me to leave MSU, but it was 100% the right decision,” the 5-foot-10, 195-pounder said. “UMass has all the opportunities I was looking for.”

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