Austin's Kody Reuter battles with the Minnesota Wilderness' Cameron Berry in a race to the puck during the first period Saturday night at Riverside Arena. Eric Johnson/photodesk@austindailyherald.com
Austin's Kody Reuter battles with the Minnesota Wilderness' Cameron Berry in a race to the puck during the first period Saturday night at Riverside Arena. Eric Johnson/photodesk@austindailyherald.com

Nelson comes back from a year off to boost Bruins in home win

Published 10:41pm Saturday, December 21, 2013

Austin Bruins forward Scott Nelson hadn’t played hockey in a year, but he wasn’t going to let them slow them down as he played a big role in Austin’s 4-3 shootout win over the Minnesota Wilderness in Riverside Arena Saturday.

Austin's Charlie Manley looks back for the puck during the first period Saturday night against the Minnesota Wilderness at Riverside Arena. Eric Johnson/photodesk@austindailyherald.com
Austin’s Charlie Manley looks back for the puck during the first period Saturday night against the Minnesota Wilderness at Riverside Arena. Eric Johnson/photodesk@austindailyherald.com

Nelson, who is from Apple Valley, Minn., scored Austin’s second goal of the shootout and Austin goalie Nick Lehr stopped three straight Wilderness attempts to give the Bruins a 3-1 win in the shootout. It wash’ that long ago that Nelson wasn’t sure if he would ever play hockey again. He had to fight through two hip surgeries and put in a lot of time just to get back on the ice.

“I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t [days where I thought I wouldn't come back],” Nelson said. “It was a lot of therapy and a lot of hard work. I did everything in my control to get back on the ice. It was a special moment [to score that goal].”

Austin head coach Chris Tok said Nelson’s work ethic helped him come back after the forward logged in jet 19 games before getting injured last season.

“He’s really battled to get back in the lineup and for him to stick to it, it’s really unbelievable,” Tok said. “A lot of people would’ve said ‘I’m done.’ He’s got a huge passion, he loves the game of hockey and he found a way to get back in.”

The Wildreness (17-6-5 overall) jumped out to a 2-0 lead early in the second period, but Austin (20-10-1 overall) got back in the game when Luke Dietsch re-directed a slap-shot to score a goal and Austin Nelson scored a goal to make it 2-2.

Dietsch helped give Austin a 3-2 lead when he made a pin-point crossing pass right in front of the Wilderness to goalie to Sam Kaupilla for a one-timer that made it 3-2 Austin with 14 seconds left in the second.

“I was looking up to [Drew Anderson) in the slot and two of the defenders scooted to Andy and I saw Kaps wide open," Dietsch said. "I was pretty lucky, but I'm glad he was there. This month has been up and down. It's huge to go into Christmas break with two wins. It's a long season with 60 games and you're going to have lows, but this is a high for us."

Austin's Lucas Kohls carries the puck in the first period against the Minnesota Wilderness Saturday night at Riverside Arena. Eric Johnson/photodesk@austindailyherald.com
Austin’s Lucas Kohls carries the puck in the first period against the Minnesota Wilderness Saturday night at Riverside Arena. Eric Johnson/photodesk@austindailyherald.com

The Wilderness tied the game at 3-3 to force overtime, where Austin got goals from Scott Nelson, Anderson and Jay Dickman.

Tok said his team was a little distracted with their Christmas break coming up, but he told his players to focus on having fun and he let them know that they were going home on Sunday whether they won or lost.

The Bruins responded with a solid effort hat put them up two points ahead of BIsmarck for first place in the NAHL Central standings.

“That’s the best game in 14 years that I’ve seen both while recruiting and been behind the bench,” Tok said. “Both teams played extremely hard. [The Wilderness] hadn’t played in 10 days and they came out fresh. It took us a little while to find our legs, but it showed great character to come out of a 2-0 hole against a very good hockey club.”

SCORING SUMMARY

Wilderness 1 1 1 0 0 — 3

Bruins 0 3 0 0 1 — 4

First period

(W) Darian Romanko (Billy Exell, Alex Fredberg) 8:42

Second period

(W) Will Peterson 1:41

(A) Luke Dietsch (power play) (Josh Bretner, Cory Dunn) 4:55

(A) Austin Nelson (Jake Arroyo, Josh Bretner) 16:09

(A) Sam Kauppila (Luke Dietsch) 19:46

Third period

(W) Thomas Lindstrom (Johno May, Billy Exell) 4:36

Power plays: Austin — 1-for-5; Wilderness — 1-for-5

Shots: Austin — 27; Wilderness — 30


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