BISMARCK, ND–Bobcat goalie and Bismarck native Aaron Nelson has found a home at the next level.
Nelson has announced his commitment to play college hockey at Minnesota State University-Mankato beginning this fall. He made his choice after a weekend visit to the campus in south-central Minnesota on Sunday.
“I had a few options. I visited there after our trip to Austin this past weekend. I talked with the coaches, met the players, stayed overnight, and it really just seemed like the right fit,” Nelson explained.
While Nelson has found his college hockey destination, the Mavericks have found perhaps the hardest-working backstopper in the NAHL.
No goalie has worked more games (39) or minutes (2334:08) this season than Nelson. No goalie has more victories (25) than Nelson. His saves percentage (.920) is sixth-highest among NAHL goalies with 20-or-more games played, and his goals against average is 11th best in the league. He is just five saves away from 1000 for the season.
“The commitment is well-deserved,” said head coach Layne Sedevie. “Aaron has been one of the winningest goaltenders in our program. He works extremely hard for us, and he’s done it in his hometown of Bismarck, which is really special.”
Nelson is wrapping up a three-year career with the Bobcats that saw him emerge as a high-calibre player a season ago. He recorded 27 wins, a sparkling 1.88 goals against average, second-best in the league, and a .931 saves percentage last year, leading the Bobcats to the NAHL semifinals.
While he has high hopes for his time at Mankato, Nelson acknowledges his entry into the Mavericks will likely resemble his first year with the Bobcats, where he played 20 games as a backup to Chaska, MN, native Tommy Burke, who is now with Bowling Green State University.
“Anything is possible. They told me that, had I been with them last weekend, I would have played. But I’m expecting it to be more like a backup role, like my first year in Bismarck. I’m going to make the most of the opportunity,” said Nelson.
The Mavericks have a top goaltender in Stephon Williams (Soph., Fairbanks, AK), who was the WCHA’s Goaltending Champion during his freshman season last year. His 2.00 goals against average was the sixth-best in the nation. Williams was selected in the fourth round (106th overall) by of the 2013 NHL draft by the New York Islanders.
Nelson says the Maverick coaching staff stressed off-ice qualifications in their recruiting process. “We talked about what kind of person I am, what kind of character I have the most,” he commented on the recruiting process. “There’s still work to do, but I’m excited about the opportunity.
For now, Nelson will turn his attention to the rest of the season with Bismarck.
“I like having the hockey part taken care of. Now, I can focus on my time with the Bobcats, focus on winning a national championship.