Change of scenery brings Davis to Topeka

Dan Falloon

Devlin native Jordan Davis was looking for a change of scenery for his final year of junior hockey.
He certainly got it—trading in the Canadian shield of Thunder Bay for the flatlands of Topeka, Kan. after joining the NAHL’s Topeka Roadrunners.
On a personal level, the former Fort William North Star received a bit of a promotion, as well, taking on a role as assistant captain.
“I’m considered more of a leader because we’ve got quite a few young guys down here,” noted Davis, who tallied 33 goals and 40 assists with Fort William last season to finish third in the SIJHL scoring race.
“Everybody actually looks upon me because I’m actually the oldest guy on the team.
“I enjoy it. . . . [With] the younger guys, I enjoy them looking up to me and asking me questions and giving them advice,” he admitted.
However, not everything has changed for Davis. After winning the SIJHL crown with Fort William last season, Davis will be looking to haul in another title with Topeka.
The Roadrunners have a shot at doing it given they’ve already punched their ticket to the championship tournament as the Robertson Cup hosts.
Still, Roadrunners’ coach and GM Scott Langer stressed his club fully intends to qualify for the tournament on its own merits.
“We’ve built quite an identity here in Topeka, and now this year we’re hosting it,” he noted.
“By no means do we want to slide into it,” he stressed. “We want to earn our right to be there and we want to win it.
“Adding guys like Jordan, who know how to win, to your locker-room is very important.”
After four-straight wins to start the season, combined with another quartet in exhibition play, the Roadrunners seem to do just that.
With a goal and three assists under his belt, Davis already is establishing himself in the system and, according to Langer, is being given every possible opportunity to contribute to the team.
“We’re utilizing Jordan in multiple areas, starting from his ability five-on-five,” Langer explained.
“He’s on the penalty kill. He’s on our first power-play.
“He’s logging a lot of minutes right now, so we’re putting a lot of pressure on him to help us win a championship down here,” Langer noted.
Davis’ presence is particularly important since the Roadrunners tend to lose a number of veteran players each off-season.
“It seems like every year in Topeka, we graduate so many players that we’re only bringing maybe six veteran hockey players back every year,” Langer said.
“It seems like we’re having to reload to win hockey games.
“We need to gather maturity as much as we can, and that’s why a guy like Jordan Davis is so important for our team,” he reasoned.
Davis admitted he pondered the switch for months before eventually pulling the trigger and signing with the Roadrunners.
“I pretty much thought about it all summer,” he recalled. “This was an option to go here.
“By the end of last season, it came upon me. I thought about it pretty much until the start of July.”
Davis had called Thunder Bay home for much of the last five years, having played with both the Thunder Bay Kings and North Stars.
He then spent the 2007-08 season with the OHL’s Owen Sound Attack before returning to the Lakehead.
“I figured it was my last year of juniors and a little different scenery would be nice, so that’s what made me change my mind,” he explained.
The 20-year-old maintained he had an excellent time with the North Stars, crediting the coaching staff there for helping to develop his game.
“I wouldn’t have minded going back there [to Thunder Bay],” he remarked. “I enjoyed it. I had a great time in Thunder Bay.
“I respect Todd Howarth and Jason Firth, and everything they’ve done for me to get this far.
“At times, I guess it got pretty tough having guys come after you night in, night out,” Davis added, noting North Stars’ players tend to have a target on their backs as members of the loop’s top team.
Even though Topeka is comparable to Thunder Bay in terms of population, running at just over 120,000, Davis said the Roadrunners benefit from being the only game in town.
“It’s actually a really big hockey town,” he enthused. “We have a booster club that treats us unbelievable.
“When we got home from Blaine, Mn. the other morning, at 1:30 in the morning, there were about 40 boosters waiting for us when we got off the bus.”