Junior goaltender Aaron Nelson made his long-awaited collegiate debut on Friday night for the Minnesota State men's hockey team, and made it count.
Nelson, who has served as a third-string goalie for 2 1/2 seasons, stopped all 18 shots he faced in his first regular-season action, shutting out Alabama Huntsville 3-0 in a WCHA game in Huntsville, Alabama.
Brad McClure scored two goals for the No. 19 Mavericks, who outshot the Chargers 33-18.
Minnesota State came into the weekend tied for fourth place in the league standings with Huntsville. With senior Cole Huggins and sophomore Jason Pawloski combining for a .860 save percentage in the Mavericks' last six games — they went 3-3-0 in that stretch — coach Mike Hastings opted to finally give Nelson a shot between the posts.
Nelson was busiest in second period when he stopped nine shots.
The Mavericks took a 1-0 lead at 6:11 of the first period on a goal by McClure. The team's and conference's scorer, freshman Marc Michaelis, picked up his 17th assist and 27th point of the season on the play, and C.J. Franklin also assisted.
Minnesota State clung to the slim lead until 3:27 remained in the second period when freshman Parker Tuomie scored from Max Coatta. It was Tuomie's fourth goal of the year.
McClure sealed the victory with 2:18 remaining in the game, scoring his 10th goal of the season in an empty net.
A more detailed version of this story, including comments from coach Mike Hastings can be found here.