Jordan Sigalet thrives under extreme pressure. As a goalie for the Falcons hockey team at Bowling Green University, Bowling Green, OH, he is simply the last line of defense. He lives immersed in the moment, poised to react, and ever watchful about what may come hurtling his way.
These skills help him face another challenge with the potential to be even more unpredictable and challenging than a 100 mph hockey puck — multiple sclerosis.
Last spring, when Jordan was a junior in the midst of a record-breaking season, he awoke one morning to find his foot numb. By the next day he was numb from the neck down. Two weeks later, just days before his 23rd birthday he was diagnosed with MS.
Stunned by the news, Sigalet initially kept it a secret, sharing it only with family members, his coaches and a few close friends. As he explains, he needed the time to prove he could keep playing — especially to himself. And play he did, finishing the season with 80 saves, although he could barely feel the hockey stick.
That summer he retreated to his parent's home in Surrey, British Columbia, with his brother Jonathan, five years his junior and a fellow Falcons teammate.
It was a time of adjustment for the whole family as they began to reconcile their son's illness with his identity as an elite athlete in peak condition. Sigalet spent the time learning all he could about MS, starting a disease-modifying drug treatment, changing his diet, and working out. In goalie fashion he resolved to take MS face on.
He returned to school and had a stellar season. He exceeded his previous season's save percentage of .916, the best in school history. He was voted team captain, the first goalie at Bowling Green to receive this honor.
Jordan was also a top ten finalists for the Hobey Baker Memorial Award, which goes to the top player in college hockey. Criteria for the award include strength of character, sportsmanship, and skill. These Preliminary Voting results are included with the votes from 58 Division I head coaches who select 10 finalists for the award.
Sigalet feels MS has improved his concentration. His coach Scott Paluch described him in an A.P. News interview as, "... scary good. It kind of makes you shake your head. When he's on the ice, he's in his element. It's been his relief area."
After MS caused him to miss two games, Sigalet called a press conference to disclose his MS. He reports feeling quite relieved, as if a huge weight has been lifted off his shoulders. He feels better able to move on with his life.
He was particularly worried about how the Boston Bruins would receive the news. The team made him a seventh-round pick in 2001 and continues to hold his NHL rights. He had been considered their No. 2 goalie prospect.
His team stood by him, noting that Sigalet's playing continued to improve since his diagnosis. Team management studied the situation and learned more about MS.
He also teamed up with the National MS Society. He appeared in a well-received MS Walk public service announcement, and has organized with his Falcons teammates an "MS Awareness Week at the Ice Arena," along with other campus fund raisers. These efforts have raised more than $10,000 for the Northwestern Ohio Chapter programs and national research efforts. He explains, "I treat MS like it's just another game I have to win. It's just a longer game."