Former Wisconsin Badgers hockey star Nic Kerdiles dies in motorcycle crash, sports and entertainment world react

Nic Kerdiles, a member Wisconsin Badgers men's hockey team for two seasons from 2012-14, died in a motorcycle crash early Saturday in Nashville. He also played professionally for the Anaheim Ducks (pictured).
Nic Kerdiles, a member Wisconsin Badgers men's hockey team for two seasons from 2012-14, died in a motorcycle crash early Saturday in Nashville. He also played professionally for the Anaheim Ducks (pictured).

Tributes have been pouring in for former Wisconsin Badgers hockey standout Nic Kerdiles, who died early Saturday morning in a motorcycle crash in Nashville.

Kerdiles was also known in the entertainment world as the former fiancé of Savannah Chrisley, a TV personality who starred on the long-running reality TV series "Chrisley Knows Best."

Police told The Tennessean that a preliminary investigation indicates that Kerdiles ran a stop sign and struck the driver's side of a BMW SUV at 3:30 a.m.

Kerdiles was 29 years old.

Kerdiles played just two seasons with the Badgers from 2012 to 2014 but he quickly became one of the program's top offensive talents, earning all-conference and tournament MVP honors.

"We remember Nic’s great spirit as part of our Badger family and have him and his family, friends and teammates in our thoughts and prayers," the men's hockey team's X account (formerly Twitter) posted Saturday, alongside a photo of Kerdiles in his Badgers uniform on the ice.

Nic Kerdiles came to Wisconsin as a top player with the US National Team program

Kerdiles was a heralded junior player with the U.S. National Team Development Program before and during his time at Wisconsin.

He was the leading scorer on a U-18 team that won gold at the 2012 International Ice Hockey Federation World Under-18 Championship in the Czech Republic. And while in college, he again led Team USA at the 2014 International Ice Hockey Federation World Junior Championships as the top scorer.

USA Hockey offered its condolences on social media, saying the organization is "heartbroken" by his death.

Nic Kerdiles was a star for the Wisconsin Badgers hockey team

Kerdiles came to Wisconsin instead of signing immediately with the Anaheim Ducks, who selected him in the second round of the 2012 NHL Early Draft.

As a freshman, he was critical to the team winning the Western Collegiate Hockey Association Tournament in 2013, the final time the Badgers competed in it. He was the tournament's MVP after scoring three goals and five assists in five games. He also scored the game-winning goal to clinch the tournament title.

As a sophomore, he battled injuries but was still second-team All-Big Ten. His 18-game points streak from his freshman to sophomore seasons remains third-best in program history. He had 10 goals and 17 assists in those games. His four game-winning goals was tied for the team lead during the 2013-14 season.

Nic Kerdiles made history with the Anaheim Ducks in 2017

He left UW after two seasons to begin his pro career. He was in the Ducks' minor-league system for a few seasons before making his NHL debut in 2017.

He made history with the Ducks as the first player from Orange County to play for his hometown team. Kerdiles grew up in Irvine, California, about 15 miles from Anaheim.

"We’re heartbroken to hear the news," a post on the Ducks' official Instagram account read in part. "Our thoughts and deepest sympathies go out to his family and loved ones."

The Ducks traded Kerdiles to the Winnipeg Jets in 2018. After his hockey career, Kerdiles began working in real estate in Nashville.

What Savannah Chrisley is saying about Nic Kerdiles

Outside of the hockey and real estate worlds, Kerdiles became known for his connection to Chrisley and her family's TV series, which he also appeared in.

Kerdiles and Chrisley became engaged on Dec. 24, 2018, but split in 2020.

Chrisley, 26, posted a lengthy tribute on her Instagram account that read in part: "It is impossible to believe that you are really gone. I am not sure how to even absorb that news, I don’t know how to react. I am so sad and so numb. I don’t want to believe it… I keep texting your phone and just hope you respond."

This article originally appeared on Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Former Wisconsin hockey star Nic Kerdiles dies in motorcycle crash