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 x - NYR 76 48 21 7 231 179 103
2 x - MTL 77 47 22 8 203 174 102
3 x - TBL 78 47 24 7 250 204 101
4 PIT 76 42 23 11 210 190 95
5 NYI 77 45 27 5 235 215 95
6 WSH 77 42 25 10 227 190 94
7 DET 76 40 23 13 221 208 93
8 BOS 77 39 25 13 204 198 91
9 OTT 76 38 26 12 220 204 88
10 FLA 77 35 27 15 192 210 85
11 CBJ 76 37 35 4 210 234 78
12 PHI 76 30 29 17 198 219 77
13 NJD 77 31 33 13 170 197 75
14 CAR 76 28 37 11 176 208 67
15 TOR 77 29 42 6 201 245 64
16 BUF 76 21 47 8 148 255 50

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Tavares 77 34 43 -2 77
R. Strome 76 16 32 20 48
K. Okposo 55 16 31 -11 47
F. Nielsen 76 14 28 8 42
B. Nelson 77 19 22 7 41
A. Lee 71 23 16 10 39
J. Bailey 65 15 23 3 38
J. Boychuk 67 8 25 9 33
N. Leddy 73 10 21 14 31
T. Hamonic 67 5 26 16 31
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
J. Halak 36 16 2 .913 2.42
M. Neuvirth 1 3 1 .881 2.94

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