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Kings' Nic Dowd gets to make his NHL debut in a familiar setting

If you are going to deliver some career-defining news from afar, you simply have to do it the right way.

When Nic Dowd discovered he would be making his NHL debut, with the Kings, he pulled his father, Alan, down the technological highway.

"I think the first phone call I made was to my mom and dad. I had to help my dad figure out how to use FaceTime," Dowd said Tuesday.

"I wanted to see his face. It was a proud moment for me. But I think getting to tell my parents was something I'll never forget."

And what did FaceTime show?

"A smiling, happy cry, that type of thing," Dowd said. "My mom [Liz] was in disbelief."

Dowd was speaking in the visiting dressing room after the Kings' 2-1 loss to the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday night. There was something particularly fitting about the venue of his NHL debut, considering St. Paul is less than 90 minutes from where Dowd played his college hockey, at St. Cloud State.

The Kings have been dealing with injury issues and left wing Tanner Pearson missed the Wild game for personal reasons, which led to Dowd's call-up from the Kings' minor-league affiliate in Ontario. Pearson is expected to rejoin the team for its game Thursday night at Winnipeg, according to hockey operations.

This Kings' season has featured several NHL debuts along the way: defensemen Derek Forbort and Kevin Gravel and forward Michael Mersch, and now the 25-year-old center, Dowd.

"He competes," said Kings Assistant General Manager Rob Blake. "He makes plays."

That was evident against the Wild. With the Kings pressing for the tying goal late in the game, Coach Darryl Sutter had Dowd on the ice and he didn't let the occasion overwhelm him.

"He made all the right plays," said winger Dustin Brown. "That's not an easy thing to do in your first game because you have that nervous energy."

Brown made his NHL debut against a league powerhouse.

"I remember it was in Detroit, in '03; at that time they had like nine Hall of Famers on their team," he said, smiling. "So that was a little … I just watched the game. A lot."

Dowd, who was drafted by the Kings in the seventh round in 2009, had a large contingent on hand for his big moment, including his British-born father, who practices family medicine in Huntsville, Ala.

The early mornings of being driven to practice as a kid create the same long-lasting memories whether it is in small-town Minnesota, rural Canada or in the South.

"We lived in Alabama. It doesn't change," Dowd said. "It's the same thing down there. Maybe not as deep a culture. But I can't stress enough, I wouldn't be here without my family."

KINGS NEXT UP

AT WINNIPEG

When: Thursday, 5 p.m. PDT.

On the air: FS West; Radio: 790.

Update: The lottery-bound Jets are dealing with a host of injuries and defenseman Toby Enstrom is scheduled to have knee surgery Thursday, according to Winnipeg Coach Paul Maurice.

lisa.dillman@latimes.com

Twitter: @reallisa

Copyright © 2016, Los Angeles Times
A version of this article appeared in print on March 24, 2016, in the Sports section of the Los Angeles Times with the headline "Dowd felt at home in his debut" — Today's paperToday's paper | Subscribe
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