Nolan Nenow strapping on skates for other teams in North Dakota
Nolan Nenow was the top scorer in the North Dakota prep hockey season this last winter.
Hockey is proving to be more and more of a lifestyle rather than a hobby for Jamestown High School junior Nolan Nenow.
A love for the game and a commitment to better himself on the ice made Nenow a perfect selection for the team that represented North Dakota at the 2022 CCM High School National Invitational Tournament (NIT) last weekend.
North Dakota ended up winning the NIT Championship for the second straight year with a 3-2 victory over the Minnesota Seniors. North Dakota's first championship came just a year ago in 2021.
"North Dakota hockey is getting better and better," Nenow said. "I'm sure glad to he a part of it."
The NIT is an annual event where prep hockey players from around the country showcase themselves in front of junior hockey scouts and college hockey coaches.
The tournament features players who don't join up with United States Hockey League or North American Hockey League teams at the end of their high school seasons.
There were eight teams competing at the the tournament this year, two from Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan and one from Colorado and North Dakota.
"The top players from each team in the state get invited to a tryout," Nenow said of how teams are selected to the tournament. "It starts out as three teams, then it is cut to two teams for the next tryout.
"After that. They pick the final team."
Nenow said the final team had one weekend of practices together before they headed to Plymouth, Minnesota for the tourney. The squad picked to represent North Dakota at the NIT is just a one tournament team.
The four-game weekend began with three pool play matchups for North Dakota.
In North Dakota's first two pool play games, the team beat Michigan Seniors 5-0 and lost to Wisconsin HP 18 4-3.
On Saturday, North Dakota needed a win over Minnesota's HP 18 team to win its pool and get back to the final.
The game was tied 4-4 late in the third period and North Dakota made the call to pull their goalie.
Carter Sproule of Grand Forks Red River scored with 30 seconds left to make it 5-4 and send the N.D. squad back to the title game.
"Everyone of those kids on this team should be deserved a spot on any junior hockey team," Nenow said. "With all this said and done, us North Dakota boys went into that tournament and showed those Minnesota kids what we are about."
2022 marked Nenow's second year playing at the NIT. Last year, Nenow said he didn't have a huge role on the team as he was only out of his second varsity prep season.
What a difference a year makes.
Following a prep season in which helped lead the Jays to their first WDA championship since 1995 and a fifth-place finish at the state tournament, Nenow knew the expectations that would likely be put upon him.
What Nenow ended up contributing to North Dakota last weekend was pretty satisfactory.
"With this year coming around, I knew I had to perform well because I had a bigger role on this team," Nenow said. "I started off the tournament pretty well. From there. I just kept getting more confident and confident."
In the title game against Minnesota Seniors, Nenow proved responsible for tying the game 2-2 with 3 minutes, 1 second left in the final frame.
Nenow finished off his second showcase tournament by scoring the deciding shootout goal to win it 3-2.
Nenow and Sproule tied for the team lead in goals with four. Nenow led the event with seven points while Sproule and Grafton-Park River's Landon Carter each tallied five.
I had a pretty good weekend (but) I wouldn't have had the tournament I did without the team I was playing with," Nenow said.
More than one great team has contributed to Nenow's career successes.
Apart from skating with the Blue Jays from November to February, Nenow is also a member Team North Dakota — a squad comprised of prep hockey players that compete in the Minnesota Elite League during the fall months.
Nenow also does various camps throughout the summer months. This summer Nenow said he will be working on his game everyday. The junior will be traveling to Bismarck twice a week to skate while on other days of the week, he will be doing workouts off the ice to continue to build his overall physicality.
While he will certainly be putting in the work to better his game and continue his hockey career — Blue Jay fans might not see all that much of Nenow at Wilson Arena this coming winter.
"My future is still up in the air," Nenow said. "I haven't made any decisions on where I'm gonna play next year. I'm going to try to move on to something at a higher level for next year. Where that is, I'm not sure yet.
"My goal is to go D1 and I'm going to do whatever i can to get there."