Tomahawks Defenseman Nelson Makes NCAA D1 Commitment
By Suzanne Grove
JOHNSTOWN, Pa. – The Johnstown Tomahawks are proud to announce that defenseman Casey Nelson has verbally committed to continue his career at Minnesota State University, Mankato. Nelson will join the NCAA Division 1 Mavericks for the 2013-2014 season.
“I committed to Mankato for so many reasons,” said Nelson, a native of Wisconsin Rapids, Wis. “The coaches are great and the university itself is wonderful – I like everything both the school and the hockey program have to offer.”
The 6-2, 180-pound defenseman has been an integral part of the Tomahawks in their inaugural season, playing in all 54 games so far and contributing 22 assists and 32 points (10-22-32). He leads all Tomahawks defensemen in points and has consistently been among the top ten defensive point leaders in the NAHL, currently tied at fifth place. He also leads all league defensemen in shots by a large margin with 189.
Johnstown Head Coach Jason Spence depends on Nelson’s abilities to bolster the team in all game situations.
“Casey has been a vital part of the power play, penalty kill, and five-on-five play,” said Spence. “He is extremely fast and has an effortless stride. He brings a heavy shot from the point, dishes out heavy checks, and reads the game well, knowing exactly where to be on the ice to succeed.”
Nelson’s play earned him a spot on the 2013 NAHL Top Prospects Tournament roster, the title of NAHL Defenseman of the Month for November, and previous recognition as a Combat Hockey Divisional Star of the Week.
Tomahawks Assistant Coach Mike Letizia agrees with Spence’s assessment.
“Casey is truly a go-to guy in every situation,” Letizia said. “He deserved his commitment to Minnesota State, Mankato with all the hard work he put in this season and his performance on the ice.”
Nelson joins his older brother Josh, a defenseman and current junior, at Mankato, which is in its 16th year as a NCAA Division 1 program and part of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association. Located less than 100 miles southwest of Minneapolis, the university has produced over 70 professional
hockey players, with over 20 alumni currently playing professional hockey. Seven of those are playing in the National Hockey League today.
“A huge benefit of playing for MSU, Mankato is the fact that my parents will be able to watch me play,” said Nelson. “And, of course, my brother is there; I’ve never been able to play with him. I can’t thank my coaches enough for giving me the opportunity to play for the Tomahawks. They haven’t just helped me to become a better player – they’ve helped me to become a better person off the ice as well.”