There was some history made when the Colorado Avalanche hosted the Nashville Predators Tuesday night. Thanks to injuries ravaging their lineup, the Avs recalled 22-year old forward Borna Rendulic, who they signed over the summer.
After spending the first two months of the season with Colorado’s AHL affiliate in Lake Erie, Rendulic made his NHL debut against the Predators, becoming the first Croatian national to ever play in the NHL. (Goran Bezina, who was born in Split when Croatia was part of Yugoslavia, became the first Croatian-born player in the NHL in 2003.)
Rendulic spent the last two seasons with HPK in Finland’s Liiga, scoring 19 times and recording 42 points in 94 games. He had four goals and seven points in 21 games with the Monsters this season. He becomes the 34th player the Avalanche have used this season, with 134 man-games lost to injury entering Tuesday night.
And he’s got some hands, as he displayed last month against the Utica Comets:
Growing up in Zagreb, Rendulic idolized Wayne Gretzky, and later Alex Ovechkin. He would join Croatia’s Medvescak Zagreb when he was 15 before moving to Finland two years later. In a July interview with Eurolanche, he explained how he got started in the sport:
No one special inspired me. I just started to train hockey when I was six, some coaches in Zagreb saw me skating on the Šalata rink and they invited me to play hockey. When I started to train, it turned out that I was very talented, so then I decided to continue with hockey. I was also very good at football (soccer) and since I knew I wanted to become an athlete, hockey was my number one choice and it has outweighted football, and that’s why I decided to become a hockey player.
After speaking with Avalanche Director of Player Development David Oliver, Rendulic decided on Colorado, joining the team where Joe Sakic, who is of Croatian descent, is a legend.
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