Eric Peterson, Published January 05 2011
Peterson: Thielen sets up success for Concordia men's hockey teamAt times, Concordia men’s hockey coach Chris Howe wishes Nick Thielen would be more self-centered.
The junior forward from Moorhead didn’t score his first goal this season until Friday, 12 games into the current campaign.
“I wish he would shoot more,” Howe said. “The guys love to play with him because he is so unselfish.”
Sharing has served Thielen well. Even though he has just two goals through 13 games, he leads Concordia with 18 points. Thielen currently leads NCAA Division III with 16 assists.
“The biggest thing for him is he is intelligent on the ice,” said Cobbers sophomore Pat Deitz, who also played with Thielen at Moorhead High School. “He can see plays develop before they develop and he can get the puck to the right guy.”
Thielen is one reason the Cobbers are undefeated over their past seven games with a 4-0-3 record. Concordia has won its past three games, averaging 6.7 goals per game during that stretch.
More than his number of assists, Thielen is pleased with how the team has bounced back after losing five of its first six games to start this season.
“I like how our team has responded since then,” Thielen said. “Everyone is having fun and everyone is happy, and the confidence just grows, and we are going to need that in the second half of the season.”
The Cobbers have four Spuds on their top two lines. Deitz and Thielen played together for two years at Moorhead High before again joining forces at Concordia. The Cobbers have nine former Spuds on the roster.
“I think the chemistry we have helps a lot,” Thielen said.
Thielen is on Concordia’s top line along with along with Aaron Wheeler, from Moorhead, and Ben Payne. Dietz, who is second in Division III with seven power-play goals, is on the second line with Braden Rahman, from Moorhead, and Brian Kang.
Thielen is also on the team’s top power-play unit along with Deitz and Wheeler.
“On the power play, he sees the game so well,” Howe said of Thielen. “Nick doesn’t slow down at all when he has the puck, so I thinkthat opens so much up for him. I don’t know if he gets faster, but he doesn’t slow down.”
Thielen has a chance to break the school record for assists in a season. John Town had 37 assists in the 1989-90 season.
Deitz has a chance to break the record for power-plays goal in a season. Brian Nelson has that mark with 13 power-play goals in the 1999-2000 season.
The Cobbers (5-5-3) are also looking to post their first winning season since 2002-03. Concordia went 13-11-2 that year.
“It’s been a long time since Concordia has had a winning season, and that’s what we’re trying to do,” said Deitz, who leads the Cobbers with nine goals.
And while Thielen has found the net in the past two games, don’t expect him to quit passing.
“I think I’m always going to be pass first and shoot second,” Thielen said.
Readers can reach Forum reporter Eric Peterson at (701) 241-5513.
Peterson’s blogs can be found at www.areavoices.com