Nelson Emerging As All-Around Force

Sound Tigers rookie relied upon in all situations

Wednesday, 11.7.2012 / 4:08 PM ET / News
By Jesse D. Eisenberg
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Nelson Emerging As All-Around Force
Sound Tigers rookie relied upon in all situations

Forward Brock Nelson was on the ice for all four Sound Tigers goals in their 4-2 victory over the Norfolk Admirals on Wednesday. The rookie center scored the game-winner, extending his goal streak to three games, and tacked on an assist, bringing his season point total to nine (five goals and four assists).

He’s one point shy of team-leader Nino Niederreiter’s total, and leads the Sound Tigers with a plus-four rating, but Nelson’s point production almost seems secondary when describing his value through the first nine games of the American Hockey League season.

“He’s such a smart hockey player,” Head Coach Scott Pellerin said. “His size, his skating and his positional play is very good. Being a center and having that much range for a young player is so important.”

The 20-year-old has become Pellerin’s top choice in nearly every situation. He’s on the Sound Tigers top power-play and penalty-kill units, as well as their most relied-upon and productive five-on-five line. Flanked by wingers Colin McDonald and Niederreiter, Nelson was on the ice for every other shift in the waning minutes of Wednesday’s game, as his club clung to a one-goal lead before Niederreiter added an insurance marker.

“He’s playing a lot of quality minutes in all different situations so I’m giving him as much as he can handle,” Pellerin said. “So far he’s handled everything I’ve thrown out.”

Nelson has shown the ability to make flashy, highlight-reel plays, but he draws audible “oohs” and “aahs” from coaches and scouts with his awareness of passing lanes on defense, his shoot-first mentality and his punishing work along the boards. That hockey sense was on full display on Wednesday’s game-winner.

“One of their guys tried to throw a cross-ice pass and I tried to make a read,” Nelson said. “I had a little bit of time and I was able to get the shot off semi-quick. It hit the pipe and went in. It was a big goal.”

It’s telling that Nelson felt like he had time on the play. On the video, it happened in about 0.5 seconds. Nelson knew where Admirals forward Corey Elkins was going with breakout pass before Elkins did, and in one motion, Nelson intercepted the puck and snapped it past Norfolk goalie Frederik Andersen.

That was the longest Nelson held the puck on his stick Wednesday. He knows where he’s going before his first touch and when no one is open, is happy to play the chip-and-grind style that dictates the AHL and NHL game.

The University of North Dakota product was a marquee scorer for the Fighting Sioux last season. His 47 points (28 goals, 19 assists) led the club during a sophomore campaign that led to Nelson getting an eye-opening taste of the AHL, where he went scoreless in four games on an Amateur Tryout.

“Getting bigger and stronger adds confidence – I think that’s the biggest thing that’s changed,” Nelson said. “You have to know that you deserve to be out there and not play timid or sit back on your heels.”

In addition to his growing confidence, Nelson credits his linemates for his quick transition to the AHL game.

“Mac (Colin McDonald) is always in the right spot, making the right plays - he’s a veteran guy,” Nelson said. “I take little bits of information from him and build it into my game. Whether it’s Mac telling me what to do on the wall or Nino (Niederreiter) telling me what to do with the puck, you just have to listen to everybody.”

As Nelson adapts to the professional game, his stats will continue to accumulate, but it’s his other attributes that make the 2011 first-round pick such an intriguing NHL prospect.

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - NYR 82 53 22 7 252 192 113
2 y - MTL 82 50 22 10 221 189 110
3 x - TBL 82 50 24 8 262 211 108
4 x - WSH 82 45 26 11 242 203 101
5 x - NYI 82 47 28 7 252 230 101
6 x - DET 82 43 25 14 235 221 100
7 x - OTT 82 43 26 13 238 215 99
8 x - PIT 82 43 27 12 221 210 98
9 BOS 82 41 27 14 213 211 96
10 FLA 82 38 29 15 206 223 91
11 CBJ 82 42 35 5 236 250 89
12 PHI 82 33 31 18 215 234 84
13 NJD 82 32 36 14 181 216 78
14 CAR 82 30 41 11 188 226 71
15 TOR 82 30 44 8 211 262 68
16 BUF 82 23 51 8 161 274 54

STATS

2014-2015 PLAYOFFS
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Bailey 2 1 2 1 3
R. Strome 2 2 0 1 2
B. Nelson 2 2 0 2 2
K. Okposo 2 1 1 1 2
J. Tavares 2 0 2 1 2
C. Clutterbuck 2 1 0 1 1
C. de Haan 2 0 1 0 1
M. Martin 2 0 1 0 1
L. Visnovsky 2 0 1 3 1
F. Nielsen 2 0 1 0 1
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
J. Halak 1 1 0 .917 2.52

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