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Nelson receives Atlantic Hockey Player
Freshman forward Ben Nelson might have been a few steps behind his teammates when he made his collegiate debut with the Bobcats in early December. But Nelson, who missed the first eleven games of the men’s ice hockey season, has made up for lost time over the past three weeks.
Nelson has scored 10 goals in the last six games, including a hat trick in Quinnipiac’s 7-2 win over Mercyhurst on Feb. 5, to help the Bobcats put together a seven-game winning streak for the first time in five years.
The native of Spokane, Wash., has been named the Atlantic Hockey Player of the Week two weeks in a row and earned national honors as Player of the Week from Insidecollegehockey.com
“I’ve been working hard, the team is playing better and it has all come together for me,” Nelson said. “(My rhythm) is getting back to where it used to be, so I’m feeling a lot more confident.”
Offensive woes plagued the Bobcats last season, and the team hoped that Nelson would help increase its goal production. However, Nelson suffered an injury in June while lifting weights and had to sit out the first seven weeks of the season.
“[The injury] really set him back with the conditioning that we do early in the fall, so he’s just getting up to speed,” head coach Rand Pecknold said.
A month later, he was cleared to play and made his collegiate debut on Dec. 5 at Holy Cross. Playing on his second shift of the night
Nelson scored on his first shot, burying a wrist shot to give Quinnipiac a one-goal lead midway through the third period.
“[The game] was nerve racking because I didn’t know what to expect,” Nelson said, “but it was nice to get that off my back early.”
Nelson tallied a goal and an assist in his next eight games before his recent offensive explosion began during a late January home-and-home series with Army.
In the first game, Nelson scored a pair of goals, including the game winner in overtime. The following night, at West Point, he scored the game-tying goal late in the third period to help Quinnipiac pull out a 4-3 come-from-behind victory.
Building upon that success, Nelson recorded five goals and two assists the following weekend in a two-game home series versus Mercyhurst. He also had a goal in each of last weekend’s games, a 6-3 win over AIC and a 5-2 loss to Holy Cross at the Fleet Center.
“He’s been phenomenal,” Pecknold said. “He’s the player we thought he was when he recruited him last year.”
All 12 of Nelson’s goals have been scored in conference action, which ranks him third in Atlantic Hockey in conference goals. In overall goals, he ranks second in the conference as well as second on the team, just two behind senior forward Matt Craig of London, Ontario.
Scoring goals is nothing new to Nelson. He was known for his scoring in the British Columbia Hockey League, where he ranked fourth in goals last season and scored 19 power play goals.
Nelson is quickly earning that reputation as well in the early stages of his collegiate hockey career.