Friday, July 29, 2011

Seeler wants Clark Cup with Muskegon

If you mailed a script about Nick Seeler’s National Hockey League Draft experience to Hollywood, there’s a chance the story would be returned to sender.

The Eden Prairie, Minn., native became the first member of the Muskegon Lumberjacks’ organization to be drafted by an NHL club when the Minnesota Wild chose him with the 131st overall pick in the fifth round of the 2011 Entry Draft. The Wild just happens to be the club Seeler grew up watching and admiring with his father, Dan. Factor in the draft taking place at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn., and the tale is almost too good to be true.

“I had to pinch myself, sit back and enjoy it,” Seeler said, laughing.

Seeler’s father wasn’t his only fan joining him at the draft. After “enduring” an interview and photo shoot following his selection, he was greeted by his parents, grandparents, sisters, several former coaches and friends in the arena’s family section. It was time to celebrate.

“It was an unbelievable feeling. I thought there was a good chance I’d get drafted, but you never truly know,” Seeler said. “Being selected was one of the best feelings ever, and I have to admit it was pretty surreal.”

“Nick being selected is great for the Muskegon Lumberjacks and the community as a whole,” Lumberjacks head coach Kevin Patrick said. “He is an excellent two-way defenseman who makes a real good outlet pass and does a good job getting pucks to the net. That's why his name shows up on the score sheet."

About a month has elapsed since the draft, and Seeler is working out like he never has before, especially since he knows Jacks assistant coach Dave Noel-Bernier will take the regimen to whole new level come September.

Seller is ecstatic to have an opportunity to work with all the Jacks’ coaches, given the team’s success in its inaugural campaign and all the coaches’ pre-Muskegon achievements.

“What I’m looking forward to most is learning from their experience,” Seeler said. “They know how to win and that shows in the great year they had last season. Coach Patrick is someone I can’t speak highly enough about. He’s a great guy and a competitor, and I can’t wait to play for him.”

Lumberjacks owner Josh Mervis credits the Jacks’ Minnesota scout, Chris LaCombe, for tabbing Seeler early on. Seeler’s had the United States Hockey League tabbed as his league of choice for several years.

“I’m looking to get stronger and faster,” Seeler said. “I know Muskegon is the perfect spot for me to get ready for the college level and eventually playing in the NHL. The USHL is a breeding ground for outstanding hockey players.”

Last season, Seeler opted to wait one more year to play in the USHL, so that he could finish the story he started writing with his Eden Prairie High School teammates when they were mites. His decision to stay in Minnesota paid massive dividends, as they won the Minnesota High School state title. As a result, he knows a thing or two about the importance of team chemistry.

“That’s a huge part of being successful,” said Seeler, who posted 43 points (9 goals, 34 assists) in 31 games last season. “If you don’t get along with everyone, you’re not going to win games, let alone win championships. That’s been one of the most important things about our Eden Prairie squad.

“Winning the state championship in my senior year, with guys I’ve played with since I was a mite…you can’t have a much more storybook ending than that.”

There are many more chapters to be written in Seeler’s hockey story. After his time in Muskegon, he’ll attend Noel-Bernier’s alma mater, the University of Nebraska-Omaha with Lumberjack alum Jaycob Megna. Then it will be on to the show. For the moment, Seeler is focusing on the page at hand.

“All I can think about now is hoisting the Clark Cup with my teammates in Muskegon,” Seeler said.

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