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Camp Spotlight: Aaron Ness

by Rich Arleo / New York Islanders

After being the only freshman to play in every game for the Minnesota Gophers hockey team last season, Aaron Ness has turned some heads at Islanders Mini-Camp.

At 5-foot-10, 170-pounds, Ness’ speed and skating skills have always given him an advantage over the bigger defenseman he has faced. For now, the young defenseman is focused on taking it one year at a time while gaining valuable experience every time he hits the ice.

“I think for me it’s just my quickness,” Ness said. “Being able to get away from the big guys, it makes it easier for me. I’ve always been a pretty good skater. The quickness has always been emphasized since I was about two years old skating with my dad in Roseau. We were on the ice all the time and that really helped me.”

From 2005 to 2008, Ness attended Minnesota hockey powerhouse Roseau High School. After amassing 28 goals and 44 assists in his senior season at Roseau, he was named “Minnesota Mr. Hockey,” which is awarded to the top high school player in the state. After graduating, he’s gone on to attend the University of Minnesota, where he was second on the team in scoring among defenseman with 17 points his freshman year.

“To me last year was unreal,” Ness said. “To get acclimated was a lot of fun for me. It was a pretty cool experience and I learned a lot.

Ness—a second round draft pick (No. 40 overall) by the Islanders in 2008—will go back to the University of Minnesota this season. He is focused on getting bigger while also gaining more time on the ice.  

“Next year, I’m focused on just hitting the weight room,” Ness said. “That’s going to be a huge part for me, to put some weight on and get bigger, faster, and stronger.”

Ness was impressive at the Islanders Mini-Camp scrimmage, and Head Coach Scott Gordon mentioned that Ness’ skating was something that really stood out.

“I’ve gotten a little bit of feedback and I think they’re fairly happy,” Ness said. “Obviously I’ve got to get stronger and just continue to work on my game all around. I’m not the biggest guy in the world so I just need to work on that.”

The 19-year-old defenseman will look to add size to an already impressive set of skills, but for Ness, enjoying the college life and gaining valuable experience at a top college hockey program are most important right now.

“I’m just taking it year by year,” Ness said. “There’s no rush for me, I’m loving school right now. It’s a great experience for me and its great hockey too.”

CLICK HERE to see video from Day 5 of Mini-Camp


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