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A battle off the ice for Bruins rookie

On June 24, 2001, goaltender Jordan Sigalet’s dreams became a reality.

Not only was the Surrey, B.C., native going to play hockey at Division-I Bowling Green State University, but the Boston Bruins also selected him in the seventh round of the 2001 NHL Entry Draft.

His freshman year, Sigalet was the backup goalie and by his sophomore season was splitting the playing time. In his junior year, Sigalet finally got the chance to be the starting goaltender. Little did he know that CCHA goal scorers would be his second toughest opponent.

On the weekend of February 27-28, 2004, Bowling Green had back-to-back games with Northern Michigan University and Sigalet had two incredible performances in net. In a 2-1 victory on Feb. 27, Sigalet stopped 41 of 42 shots, earning the first star of the game. On Feb. 28, in a 2-2 tie, the net minder stopped 24 shots and earned the number two star.

On Mar. 1, Sigalet was named CCHA Defensive Player of the Week, but there was no time to celebrate. That morning, when he awoke, his foot was numb. While Sigalet thought it would go away it did not and instead spread throughout his body. The next day he was numb from the neck down.

Sigalet went and saw the team doctor, who ran him through some tests. The results were startling. Jordan Sigalet was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, an inflammatory disease that affects the central nervous system, which in turn affects the brain and spinal cord. Causes are unknown.

Despite having an illness that would have caused many people to lose hope, Sigalet was not going to let it beat him and continued to play, keeping the MS a secret. By looking at his numbers no one could have guessed he was sick. Sigalet was named to the All-CCHA First Team, leading the nation in minutes played (2210:02), saves (1,140) and shots faced (1,241).

Sigalet had multiple sclerosis for 10 months before he told the public. In that time he told only his family, friends and teammates, who were able to provide a support system for him.

“It has definitely made me a lot closer to my family and teammates,” said Sigalet. “Everyone has been so supportive. I would not be able to get through this without them.”

On December 13, 2004 he could hide it no longer and held a press conference to announce he had MS.

“Every time I have had something go wrong, I have been trying to hide behind the fact that I had the flu,” said Sigalet. “I just did not want to hide behind that anymore. It has been a burden to me and I needed to get it off my shoulders.”

Now that he made his battle public, Jordan is doing all he can to help others with MS. Last February, at the Bowling Green Ice Rink, Jordan organized the MS Awareness Weekend. MS Ribbons of Hope and Bands of Hope were sold for a one-dollar donation. Each person donating received a Sigalet action photo.

Following the game there was a party where autographed hockey memorabilia was auctioned and raffled off, including items from former Bowling Green star and Colorado Avalanche defenseman Rob Blake. Jordan’s efforts at the MS Awareness Weekend and participation in the MS Walk in Ohio raised over $10,000 for research.

Due to his determination to play through the multiple sclerosis and to help fight MS off the ice Jordan was nominated for a 2005 ESPY Award as “Best Comeback Athlete.” He was also a finalist for the 2005 Hobey Baker Award, given annually to the top collegiate hockey player in the United States.

With his MS finally in the open and his collegiate career over, his next battle will not be as life-altering. Sigalet has begun his rookie season with the Providence Bruins, and has already earned his first NHL recall to Boston.

Playing hockey is what Sigalet wants to do.

“I am planning on playing hockey until I am 40 years old,” he said. “No matter where it is, I am going to keep playing.”

If his determination to fight through multiple sclerosis is any sign of how hard he will battle on the ice, expect Sigalet to be a strong contributor for the P-Bruins.