At 6-foot-4 and 195 pounds, Nick Wolff doesn’t have to shy away from physical play. Nor would he want to.
Eagan’s hulking hockey defenseman and football strong safety prefers the play to be physical.
“I like to go out there and throw my body at kids. That’s my game,” said Wolff, who was recently selected to play for USA Hockey’s Under-18 Select Team at the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament overseas. “I love making contact. A lot of kids have great hands or they’re very fast. That’s not me. I take the body and play my position.”
But Wolff shouldn’t sell himself short. For a large defenseman on the ice, he is mobile and has generated his fair share of offense from the blue line.
As a junior for the Wildcats last season, he scored four goals and added 19 assists through 27 games. He believes he can be a fourth forward on the ice when the situation presents itself. He will strive to be the type of player you don’t want to play against.
“He loves to compete,” Eagan coach Mike Taylor said. “He’s not going to give you an easy out. He just won’t do it.”
That total package has earned him a spot on Team USA for the annual international tournament, which will be held Aug. 5-10 in Breclav, Czech Republic, and Piestany, Slovakia.
His selection was both deserving and surprising.
“I didn’t expect it one bit,” Wolff said. “It was always my goal to go overseas. It’s a great achievement and it’s very surprising.”
It’s easy to see why the big burly defenseman was so shocked.
Team USA’s final roster was chosen at the USA Hockey Select 17 National Development Camp in Williamsville, N.Y., which was held June 27-July 3. Wolff wasn’t even initially selected to attend the New York camp. His performance at the Minnesota Hockey Final 54 camp, where local players are chosen to advance to the national camp, was subpar.
USA Hockey eventually called looking to fill an extra defensive slot. Officials remembered seeing the Eagan prospect at the USA Hockey Select 16 National Development Camp last year, and noticed he didn’t make it this summer.
They extended an invite to Wolff and he made the most of it, scoring two goals and adding two assists in six games. He was eventually selected to the final roster.
Wolff hopes to play college hockey sometime down the road and has already taken unofficial visits to Miami (Ohio), Ohio State and Penn State. But his plans for now call for first staying at home and finishing high school with his family and friends.
Some junior hockey after high school seems likely for Wolff. He will be eligible for the 2014 NHL draft next June.
Because of his size, work ethic, rapid development and recent exposure, Taylor believes Wolff will garner “a ton’’ of Division I interest this season.