MINOT, N.D. - If you know hockey in Minot chances are you know the Morelli family.
Three generations of Morelli's have played hockey in North Dakota, Mason Morelli is entering his senior year at Nebraska Omaha.
Mason's hockey journey hasn't been without its challenges.
From a young age Mason knew he was bound for the ice. With a local hockey legend for a grandfather and a dad who played for the University of North Dakota, it was no surprise that Mason followed in their footsteps.
"I was pretty young. I think I started about three. My dad brought me to the rink. You know I just think it's in my blood. My dad and grandpa both were hockey fanatics. So, it's just something I think I had from day one,” said Mason Morelli.
Hockey led Mason to the University of Nebraska Omaha.Then, last December, the unfortunate happened.
"I just kind of knew. Just didn't feel right,” said Mason Morelli.
Mason tore his ACL and MCL in one of his knees.
"There were some tough days in the weeks after his surgery. He'd be watching his teammates play and you'd call him and he's watching them on TV. Those weren't so fun,” said Matt Morelli.
“Yeah, it was hard. Especially those first couple months. You know just watching my team play every day, practice and I was on the sidelines dealing with crutches pretty worthless at the time,” said Mason.
ACL recovery is at least a nine-month process.
Mason says one of his best days was when he got back on the ice for the first time.
"I was obviously a little nervous, you know, just getting back out there for the first time in, I don't know, five or six months. It was definitely a little nerve wracking but at the same time it was kind of overwhelming. It was like 'geez I just missed it so much,' and it's good to be back,” said Mason.
Matt says his son wants to make a statement in his final year of school.
"If you miss a half a year like he did last year the desire is even greater but he knows what he is doing and knows what he has to do to be successful,” says Matt Morelli.
Mason plans to be ready for his senior season, but his hockey dreams don't end there.
"Every kid has a dream to play in the NHL and that would be pretty incredible to do that. You know my family went through a lot with this as did I. And I want to make them proud. I want to be able to call them one day and say hey I have some good news for you guys,” said Mason.
Working hard to come back even stronger.
Nebraska-Omaha Hockey team starts their season Nov. 2.
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