BISMARCK, N.D. - In the last handful of years, we’ve had three inaugural seasons for three different sports in Bismarck. The Larks, Bucks, and the University of Mary hockey team. On the ice, the Marauders have a lot of familiar faces, like goaltender, Aaron Nelson.
Experience is a valuable asset. But for a hockey player to get it, you often have to travel, and take a chance or two. As Nelson says, "just living in the moment right now."
Aaron Nelson's hockey journey has come full circle. From playing for the Century Patriots, Nelson left for California, where he played some AAA hockey. He returned back to his hometown where he spent three seasons with the Bismarck Bobcats, before going to Mankato, to play with the Mavericks. "Now, coming back here, wanted to get into the coaching role, had one more season left to play, so it kind of ended up that way, and I'm glad it did, it's a lot of fun," said Nelson.
The decision to play for the University of Mary, was one that happened at the right place, right time of his life.
"I still had NCAA eligibility, I had some opportunities in division one, but at the point I was at in my life, if I graduated undergrad, I was ready to just move on from that, and just kind of ended up being, the coaching gig was the best spot I thought for myself, and I ended up being able to play," said Nelson.
Since joining the Marauders on the ice, his contributions and leadership, have helped round this team from, just a new program, to an experienced program.
Marauders Head Coach Dan Huntley said: "He has a lot of fun, he doesn't care if one of these guys are 18 or 24, he's just one of the guys, and I think that's why he's got a lot of respect from them. His respect also comes from his playing ability, what he does in practice every day, and what he did before he came here in the respect that he's earned in the places he's been in."
Teammate Drew Lenertz said, "He brings a lot of experience and a lot of knowledge to the game and he's been helping us, helping the defense and forwards as well, so it's been great."
When it comes to Aaron's future after U-Mary, he has plenty of options, but right now, he's concentrating on today, rather than tomorrow. "Just focusing on school,” Nelson says, “making sure that's important, but at the same time, pushing myself at the rink every day is important. Just being the best teammate I can, best leader I can, slash coach, so we'll see what happens."
U-Mary's first hockey season, just happens to be the last of Aaron's college career.
Nelson has a .962 percent and a 1.10 goals against average.