Ohio State freshmen Miguel Fidler and Tyler Nanne’s hockey careers represent a life-sized version of a Chinese finger trap.
Wherever one goes, the other is most likely there, too.
With a hockey tradition as strong as they come in Minnesota, the Fidler and Nanne families have been tied together long before Fidler and Nanne laced up their skates for the first time.
Fidler’s father, Mike, played hockey at Boston University before embarking on his NHL career, spanning 271 games with Cleveland, Minnesota, Hartford and Chicago. While he was in Minnesota with the North Stars, Mike Fidler played under general manager Lou Nanne, Tyler’s grandfather.
Tyler’s father, Marty Nanne, played at the University of Minnesota before spending three seasons in the International Hockey League with Saginaw and Indianapolis. His brother, Louie, currently plays for Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and his cousin, Vinni Lettieri, plays for Minnesota.
Quickly becoming best friends in youth hockey, Miguel Fidler and Tyler Nanne developed their games to an exceptional level. Once they began their high school careers at Minnesota powerhouse Edina, the aforementioned finger trap took its stranglehold.
During high school, they were both drafted by the Lincoln Stars of the United States Hockey League, the top junior hockey league in the country.
Nanne committed to OSU in January 2014 and, after a little nudging and persuasion, Fidler followed suit that May following their back-to-back state titles.
That June, Nanne was selected in the fifth round (142nd overall) by the New York Rangers in the NHL draft. To no surprise, Fidler was taken by the Florida Panthers with the very next pick.
Given their history, Nanne was ecstatic.
“Just to be drafted was special, but back-to-back was even more special,” Nanne said.
They spent the 2014-15 season in the USHL. Nanne was traded to Sioux Falls, but it wasn’t long before he was traded again to Madison, where he was reunited with Fidler. The 2015-16 campaign for the two will begin, once again, on the same team.
Will the coincidences ever stop? Fidler doesn’t seem to think so.
“Every year I think it’ll stop, but every year something new happens that we’ll end up somewhere together,” Fidler said.
As with any relationship that lasts the better part of 12 years, there’s the occasional disagreement, but it always blows over quickly.
“Me and Tyler are so close that we’ll fight like enemies one time then we’ll be best friends the next,” Fidler said. “He’s one of my closest friends. I’ve known him probably the longest I’ve known anyone.”
Thus, their careers are set to begin with the Scarlet and Gray. No matter how much they’ve been scouted by junior teams or colleges over the years, Fidler and Nanne said they know what each other can bring to the table better than anyone.
“He works extremely hard,” Fidler said about Nanne. “He practices all his skills all the time. He’s an incredible skater, one of the best I’ve seen. He’s got an incredible shot and he’s got really good vision. He’s going to be a big asset for our team.”
The duo also said they know that Columbus stands as a pit stop for bigger things to come. But in order to get ready for the next level, there’s further development that needs to happen at OSU.
“Growing as a person, maturing on and off the ice,” Nanne said. “The main thing is getting bigger, faster, stronger and keeping up with the play. Everyone’s good. It’s just a matter of if you want to be great.”
Regardless of what happens when their time at OSU is over, their paths seem likely to cross at some point once again.
“Ending up at the same college and sticking with it to the end means a lot,” Nanne said. “It’s a coincidence, but at the same time, when you’re with someone for that long, it’s a blessing to have them in your life for such a long time by your side.”
They wouldn’t have it any other way.