Thursday, December 16, 2010
Noah Clarke was born in 1979 in La Verne, California, 44 miles from The Forum, home of the Los Angeles Kings. Clarke was nine years old and already a Kings fan when Wayne Gretzky was dealt to the Kings and was no doubt aided and influenced by Gretzky's arrival in Southern California - a phenomenon known as "The Gretzky Effect" which resulted in a dramatic increase in youth hockey in California. Clarke has been quoted as saying that some of the rinks he ended up playing on probably wouldn't have been there if not for Gretzky's presence in Los Angeles.
Clarke moved to Minnesota to play at Shattuck-St. Mary's to further his hockey career, which led to him joining the Des Moines Buccaneers of the United States Hockey League. After two years of play in the junior league averaging more than a point a game as well as being drafted by his hometown Los Angeles Kings, Clarke became a member of Colorado College Tigers of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association under head coach Scott Owens, who had coached Clarke in Des Moines.
Clarke immediately led the Tigers in scoring as a freshman with 37 points in 39 games. After consistent seasons of 32 and 37 points, Clarke exploded for 21 goals and 49 assists for 70 points in 42 games as a senior to lead the nation in assists and finish second overall to teammate and Hobey Baker Award winner Peter Sejna.
Following the conclusion of his college career, Clarke played three games with the Kings minor league affiliate the Manchester Monarchs in preparation for a full season with the Monarchs in 2003-04 as well as a pair of games with the Kings, the first of which came on this date in 2003 when Clarke became the first native Californian to ever play for the Kings in their 37 year history. He also scored his first NHL point with an assist on Jon Sim's goal in the Kings 4-2 win over the Edmonton Oilers.
Clarke in one of his two games with the Kings in 2003-04 wearing the Kings Vintage jersey style
Clarke spent the next three seasons with the Monarchs, including highs of 24 goals and 57 points in the 2006-07 season. Clarke also played another five games with the Kings in 2005-06 and 13 more in 2006-07 which included his first two NHL goals, the first of which came on March 12, 2007, which was also the first Kings goal ever scored by a Californian.
Unable to crack the Kings lineup, Clarke signed with the New Jersey Devils who assigned him to their AHL affiliate, the Lowell Devils. Clarke played 47 games with Lowell, scoring 14 goals and 31 points. He also was called up for a single game with New Jersey in which he scored a goal.
Clarke then moved to Europe to continue his career in 2008-09, first with HC Ambri-Piotta of the Swiss National League A for 28 games before moving to Lukko Rauma of the Finnish SM-Liiga. He returned to HC Ambri-Piotta to start the 2009-10 season before changing teams again, this time moving to Slavia Praha HC in the Czech Republic.
Clarke while with Ambri Piotta in Switzerland
For the 2010-11 season Clarke signed with the Augsburg Panthers of the German DEL.
Clarke concluded his time in the NHL with 21 games, 3 goals and 1 assist for 4 points.
To date, the only other native of California to play for the Kings was Gabe Gauthier of Torrance, California, who skated for the Kings in five games in the 2006-07 season without a point.
For an extensive interview with Clarke, please visit MayorsManor.com.
Today's featured jersey is a 2007-08 Lowell Devils Noah Clarke jersey from his time with the New Jersey Devils organization. The Lowell Devils came into being when New Jersey moved their minor league affiliation to Lowell, causing the club to change from their previous name as the Lowell Lock Monsters.
The club was founded in 1998 as the Lock Monsters and were originally affiliated with the New York Islanders from 1998 to 2001, then the Los Angeles Kings for a year prior to the Carolina Hurricanes from 2001 to 2006. After two seasons with the Calgary Flames and one with the Colorado Avalanche, the club changed their name and began their final four years in Lowell as the top minor league club of the New Jersey Devils. The 2009-10 season was the final one in Lowell for the club, which relocated to Albany, New York for the 2010-11 season while retaining their affiliation with New Jersey and the Devils name.
While in Lowell, the club won two division titles, the first in 199 and the second in 2002. Playoff success eluded the club however, as they made the playoffs six times in 12 years, never making it past the second round in two tries.
Today's video section begins with a look at the intensity of the fans of Ambri Piotta in Switzerland.
Here in an interview with Clarke following his first NHL goal as a member of the Kings, the first California-born player to ever score for Los Angeles.
Here is a clip of Clarke scoring his only goal while with the New Jersey Devils and an unfortunate slip of the tongue by the announcer while recapping Clarke's stats. Oops.