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Eastview's best kept secret

By Aaron Paitich, Special to the Star Tribune, 01/14/11, 10:46AM CST


Scott Nelson has flown under the radar, but people are starting to catch on

Eastview's Scott Nelson. Carlos Gonzalez, Star Tribune

Eastview’s Scott Nelson has always scored goals. But as a little guy, he also used to get run over.

So he had to acquire one important trait early in his career — a trait even some players with heavy bodies don’t have.

“He’s got hockey sense. He’s had to have that since he was a little kid just to survive,” said Scott’s father, Stacy Nelson. “When you’re 100 pounds and some of these kids are 210, even at the bantam level, he’s figured out how to manage through the smaller stature and lighter weight.”

Throw in a growth spurt, add some strength, speed and experience.

“Now he’s enjoying himself, that’s for sure,” said Stacy Nelson, who has been coaching at the local youth levels for 25 years.

Scott Nelson has managed to stay under the South Suburban Conference radar behind the likes of Apple Valley stars Hudson Fasching and A.J. Michaelson, Burnsville’s Mike Dockry and Lakeville South’s Justin Kloos.

With 13 goals and 10 assists in 12 games, people are catching on.

Lightning head coach Drey Bradley would like to keep it hush-hush.

“We don’t want to tell anybody about him. We want to keep him a big old secret,” Bradley said.

Carlos Gonzalez, Star Tribune

As a sophomore, Nelson earned all-conference honorable mention. He grew 2 inches, put on a few pounds and now pivots the Lightning’s top line. Now, at 5-9 and 150 pounds and with room to grow, he plays like he’s bigger. He’s been instructed well throughout his career and credits his successes to Dad.

“He’s pretty much been there helping me my whole life,” said Scott Nelson, who has two five-point performances already this season, along with two hat tricks. “Pretty much everything I know about the game has come from him.”

Both his father and Bradley have two words to describe the junior center: rink rat.

“I like that,” Scott Nelson said. “That’s a good label.”

Nelson, who also plays baseball, isn’t afraid to try new things. An avid hockey watcher, he’s picked up little things in all aspects of the game to continue improving. His innate hockey sense allows Nelson to navigate the ice and anticipate the play. He knows where the puck is going long before the puck gets there.

Nelson has the unique feature of “strong, soft hands,” as his father calls it. He can fire a crisp tape-to-tape pass and then finesse his way through traffic.

But he’s always been able to do that. Now Nelson’s game is rounding out. There’s more freedom on the ice and he’s not getting bumped off the puck.

“He’s gaining confidence because now he’s not getting run over,” Stacy Nelson said. “He’s actually knocking guys on their keester and continuing on.”

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Carlos Gonzalez, Star Tribune