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Nelson excited to go pro

by Cory Wright / New York Islanders
With little left to prove at the collegiate hockey level, Islanders prospect Brock Nelson officially signed his first professional NHL contract Tuesday.

Brock Nelson has signed a three-year entry level contract with the Islanders.
The Islanders 30th overall pick in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft finished third in the National Collegiate Athletic Association in goals (28) and led the North Dakota Fighting Sioux in points (47) this season.  Nelson capped his spectacular sophomore year with the Fighting Sioux by winning his second WCHA title and a berth in the NCAA Men’s Ice Hockey Championships.

With those accolades already on his impressive resume, Nelson decided he was ready to take the next step, inking an entry-level contract with the Islanders. He will report to Bridgeport Thursday to join the Sound Tigers for their playoff run on an Amateur Tryout Contract.

“It’s definitely a great feeling,” Nelson said. “It’s emotional and exciting at the same time.”

The decision to leave college after two years wasn’t an easy one for Nelson. It’s tough to leave behind a close-knit team and put a degree on hold, but to pursue his dreams he said it was the right decision.

“I think everyone comes to a point where it is time to move on and I think I was in a win-win situation no matter what the decision was,” he said. “It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and you can’t guarantee that it’ll happen again. It’s hard to pass up.

“[UND’s] obviously something I won’t forget and I’ll always remember what happened here.”

He added that one day he plans to finish his major in Pre-Investments.

As Nelson joins the Sound Tigers for the American Hockey League playoffs, he brings valuable big-game experience. He is no stranger to high-intensity, high-pressure games and thrives with the game on his stick. Inside College Hockey’s WCHA “Breakthrough Player of the Year” scored six game-winning goals this season, including the championship-winning goal against the University of Denver.

Nelson played 42 games this season for North Dakota, approximately half of the games of the grinding 82-game NHL season. Playing for Bridgeport, he’ll get accustomed to playing three or even four games in a week.

“It’s great to get experience now in Bridgeport at the end of the year and to take everything in and get used to it,” he said.

The increase in games isn’t the only transition for Nelson. He is moving over 1,500 miles east to play for a new team, in a new league featuring players with NHL experience. He’ll have to rely on former college foes Aaron Ness and Matt Donovan to show him the ropes.

“I want to contribute any way as called upon,” Nelson said. “I don’t really know what to expect right away, but I know a couple of guys from camps and playing against some of them in college. It’ll be nice to have a couple of guys I know and be able to talk to."

In North Dakota Nelson passed his collegiate tests with flying colors. Now that he’s posted in Connecticut, he’s one step closer to the big stage on the Island. 
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