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Sellers has had a part in Sault Ste. Marie hockey history
Feb. 1, 2008
By LINDA BOUVET, LSSU Sports Information Director
Sophomore forward Nik Sellers never forgot the first time he felt the electricity of visiting the unfriendly confines of a Central Collegiate Hockey Association foe.
"I watched my brother go from juniors to college hockey, and I remember watching him at Yost Arena," Sellers said. "All of the fans and everything. Everybody was cheering against him. I was six years old and defending my brother."
Joe Sellers played at Ohio State from 1992-96 and enjoyed a successful collegiate career. He was a 210-pound left winger and self-described "in the corners guy," while noting that Nik is more of a finesse player.
Sellers was the points leader for the Soo Indians in 2004-05, which was the final year of the Junior A program's existence during its Kewadin Casinos era. Sellers and teammate Steven Kaunisto moved on to play a season for the Cedar Rapids Rough Riders before returning to the Sault as members of the Lake Superior State hockey team.
Then, as a rookie last season, he scored the game-winning goal in Game 3 of LSSU's CCHA First-Round Playoff series against Ferris State. He helped secure the Lakers' first playoff series win in 10 years.
Sellers clearly recalls how that goal was scored.
"I came into the zone and went around the net," he said. "I saw Derek (R.) Smith open in front and got him the puck. Just as he was about to shoot it, it tipped off a defender's stick and bounced in front of the goalmouth. We were whacking away at it until one of us hit it in."
Sellers, who has more hockey to look forward to in Sault Ste. Marie, is thankful for the "unconditional" support he has received while playing here.
"It's nice to see the supporters we saw with the Indians and to still see them now," he said. "The relationships you build here - you don't forget about them, and they don't forget about you."
Sellers came into this season 16 pounds lighter and determined to be a solid two-way player. He got off to a great start, totaling 1-3--4 during his first eight games, and has battled for a spot in the lineup during the second half of the season.
"Coming into last year, I was playing at 187 and it was hard to get into the best shape I could," Sellers said. "I broke my ankle at the end of juniors and couldn't get into peak physical condition. It was hard to keep up."
Sellers gave up drinking soda, and committed to maintaining a good diet and conditioning program.
"When you're feeling good off the ice, it's going to pay dividends when you're on the ice," he said. "The confidence I have, knowing how I've bettered myself over the summer...I feel a lot quicker on the ice and more comfortable when I have the puck on my stick. And I've maintained my strength."
"He's improved his skating," said older brother Joe, who occasionally sees Laker games. "He's a lot faster than he was a year ago. That's one thing I could never do."
Nik Sellers' role has varied as he has centered three different lines in his last three games. On Jan. 12, he partnered with points leader Nathan Perkovich and Carter Lee. During the Miami series, he played one game with John Scrymgeour and Chad Nehring, and another with Dan Eves and Zac MacVoy. After sitting out Friday against Ohio State, he centered a line with Eves and Nehring on Saturday. He seeks to create scoring chances for his teammates and hold his own defensively.
"Everybody on the team is concerned about plus-minus, but I've always prided myself on plus-minus," he said. "If I have to block a shot with my head, I'll do it...I think we're a great forechecking team. If we can get the pressure on and create turnovers, that's when we're at our best."
It's interesting to note that Joe Sellers said that he never got too caught up in CCHA rivalries, but he hasn't forgotten that LSSU ended his collegiate hockey career by sweeping the 1996 CCHA quarterfinal series in Sault Ste. Marie.
"I remember the year before we were up there and staying at the Best Western," Joe Sellers said. "McDonald's was two blocks away, but we needed to catch a ride. It was too cold to walk."
Lake Superior State Men's Ice Hockey