MOLINE, Ill. — Two familiar names have made the history books of Quad City hockey, as the first two players in Quad City Storm franchise history have been signed. Vladimir Nikiforov and Nicola Levesque have inked the first contracts with the Storm, the announcements coming one day apart this past weekend. Both have called the Quad Cities home for the past several years.
Nikiforov returns to the Quad Cities for his third stint with a team based in Moline, though this time the franchise bears a different name. The Hauppauge, NY native is a forward and will be able to make the claim of playing for the same city over three different professional leagues come to the start of the season.
Nikiforov spent most of his career in the ECHL, splitting his first professional season between the Utah Grizzlies and the AHL Bridgeport Sound Tigers. In 45 games with Utah that regular season, he totaled ten goals and 23 assists. Nikiforov then went a point per game in his five playoff appearances that year. With Bridgeport, he scored once and added four assists in 19 games. The following season he had his career high in point production, amassing 51 points (19G, 32A), also with the Grizzlies, before being held off the scoresheet in his two playoff appearances.
The forward also saw ECHL time with the Florida Everblades, Reading Royals, and Bakersfield Condors before moving to the now-defunct CHL with the Bloomington Blaze. He began the 2011-12 season with the Brooklyn Aviators of the FHL, but after ten games moved to central Illinois. He matched his career high 51 points, this time with 21 goals and 30 assists.
Nikiforov helped rebuild the Lokomotiv Yaroslavl team after its disastrous 2011 plane crash, appearing in 45 regular season games for the VHL team. In those 45 games, he scored ten times and assisted six times. In his five playoff games for the team, he had one goal and one assist.
It was then that he first came to the Quad City Mallards, skating in 63 of the 66 CHL regular season games. He made his mark on the scoresheet with 14 goals and 31 assists for a total of 45 goals. Nikiforov also appeared in all 14 playoff games for the Mallards that season, the two seven-game series seeing him earn 10 points (2G, 8A).
Nikiforov returned to the Mallards after a year in Europe playing in Germany, Poland, and Europe – this time in the ECHL after the merger. In 59 games, he scored an even 10 times with 26 assists. He went to the Alaska Aces the following season, appearing in 14 games before returning to Europe. This time, however, he played in the Hungarian Erste Liga for MAC Budapest. In three regular-season games with the Hungarian team, he scored once with two assists. In the playoffs he was more prolific, adding five goals and ten assists in 15 games.
Nikiforov returned to North America last season, signing with the Tulsa Oilers. In 41 games before being released in February, he earned 21 points (8G, 13A).
Levesque spent four years in the Quebec Junior AAA Hockey League, three with the Princeville Titans before joining La Tuque Loups midway through the 2012-13 season. With Princeville, Levesque totaled 76 points (23G, 53A) in 117 games. His first full season with La Tuque he had his most productive year, averaging just over a point per game as he scored 15 times and added 26 assists in 36 games. He made 38 playoff game appearances in his first three years in the QJAAAHL, making his way onto the scoresheet with 16 goals and 11 assists.
The Trois-Rivieres, Quebec native began his professional career with the Danville Dashers of the FHL, playing four games before playing 37 games for the Steel City Warriors of the same league. Levesque amassed 38 points (15G, 23A) in those games with the Warriors, but was held off the scoresheet when he skated in eight games for the SPHL’s Huntsville Havoc.
Levesque then returned to his hometown to play with the Blizzard CNS for three games. After leaving the Blizzard, he played ten games for the Cap-de-la-Madeleine Barons and averaged just over a point and a half per game in the regular season. In the post-season, he added nine points (6G, 3A) in seven games. The forward spent most of the following season with the Cap-de-la-Madeleine CloutierClim, totaling 30 points in 22 games. He also appeared in five playoff games with the team, but during the regular season played five games for the Berlin River Drivers of the FHL and one game with the Blizzard CNS again.
He split last season between the Watertown Wolves of the FHL and the Cap-de-la-Madeleine CloutierClim, playing ten games for the Wolves and 21 for Cap-de-la-Madeleine. He appeared in the playoffs for both teams, Watertown seeing him more with six games compared to the three for Cap-de-la-Madeleine.
Levesque has also been involved in local sports in the Quad Cities, playing dek hockey at Quad Cities Dek Hockey. QC Dek Hockey was founded in 2012 by Nic’s older brother Patrik Levesque, who had played with the Mallards of the CHL from 2009 to 2011, and again from 2012-13.
Nikiforov also is involved in the local hockey community, offering hockey lessons in the area.
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