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A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Road trip for UConn's Nurse?

Kia Nurse will certainly do her share of traveling this season. It has already started as she is in Columbus, Ohio for tomorrow's showdown against Ohio State.

However, there's a chance she could make a couple more trips next month that have nothing to do with her role on the three-time defending UConn women's basketball team.

With the NHL's Edmonton Oilers dealing with some early season injuries on defense, her brother Darnell was called up from the AHL.

Darnell Nurse, Edmonton's first-round pick in the 2013 NHL Draft, made his season debut on Oct. 27 and he recorded his first career NHL goal with an impressive blast in a 4-3 loss to Minnesota. Two nights later he had an assist as the Oilers rallied from a 3-0 deficit to stun Montreal 4-3.

Kia Nurse was unable to get access to a live stream to see Darnell's first NHL goal as it happened but reaction came in at a fast and furious pace on social media. She also got a first-hand report from her parents who made it to the Minnesota game.

"It is incredible," Kia Nurse said. "He just sent a text one day saying I got called up and it was absolutely phenomenal and then to see him score his first goal in his first game, just surfing through social media and every single one of our friends and family members, everybody in Hamilton was tweeting, instagraming and I was so happy. My parents were there, they made the road trip out to the game and were really happy to see that."

Nurse had a string of four straight games with at least 20 minutes played and is sixth on the Oilers with an average of 18:57 played in the nine games he has appeared in. Nurse has a goal and three assists while he has predictably had some growing pains in his own zone as well.

As luck has it, UConn does not play between Dec. 11-21 and the Oilers happen to be playing in Boston on Dec. 14 and in New York the next night. It should be noted that the final exams during the fall semester happen to start on Dec. 14 so there are some scheduling issues to deal with but if Kia can swing it, she plans on being at one or both of those games.

"When they get to Boston or New York, those are the two closest ones I can get to so I will try to get to them," Nurse said. "My parents will be around here and be around with him so there is scheduling all over the place."

The only other trip the Oilers make to the tri-state area comes on Feb. 7 and 9 with games at the Islanders and Devils. However, she will be a little preoccupied around that time with the Huskies playing at No. 2 South Carolina on Feb. 8. The only other game that could be a possibility for Kia to see her brother play live would come on Jan. 21 at Dallas since the Huskies host Central Florida at the XL Center on the 20th and play at Southern Methodist on Jan. 23.

While it is uncertain when or if Kia Nurse will see Darnell play live, their parents will be making their way to see him play.

"They are just proud parents out there," Kia Nurse said. "They will be the first ones to tell us that and then they will be the first people to deflate our heads and that is what is so great about them, they have always pushed us to understand sports are a privilege and everything else that comes before that, if you don't do that you don't play sports."

The Nurse family keeps in touch with regular chats and use of FaceTime since the family is from Hamilton, Ontario, Darnell is on the road regularly and older sister is living in Greece.

"My sister is in Greece, my parents are up there, it is a combination of (catching up) with what is going on in everybody's life and we get a text every single day," Nurse said.

Every once in a while the topic may turn to the player or players who Darnell got into it with physically.

"He is a strong kid and he likes to protect his teammates so that is something that is good about him so if he has to fight somebody, I hope he wins," Kia Nurse said.

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