During the Winter Carnival break, Michigan Tech received a commitment form Nick Nardella, a 5′-9″ forward from Rosemont, Ill. He joins two of his teammates on the Green Bay Gamblers as future Huskies. Trenton Bliss committed back in December and Carver Watson (younger brother of Cliff and current Husky, Cooper) are also currently playing for Pat Mikesch. All three are expected to join the Huskies either next season (Watson and Bliss) or the year after (Nardella) but for today, we’ll focus on the two newer additions.
In Trenton Bliss, who was formerly committed to Wisconsin, the Huskies get a player that is currently top 10 in the USHL in scoring and exceeding Coach Shawhan’s benchmark of 0.7 PPG to be an offensive talent. Bliss currently has 16 goals and 43 points in 45 games for the Gamblers. The 6′-1″ forward leads the team assists and points while being second in goals, sandwiched between future Wolverine, Nolan Moyle and future Golden Knight, Josh Dunne. Bliss was born in Dallas, Texas but he played youth/high school hockey in Appleton, Wisconsin. The former Appleton United standout took a year to get acclimated to the USHL after scoring 6 total points in 33 games split between Green Bay and Coulee Region (NAHL) last season, but its hard to doubt his ability after surging to his current level of neither a point per game for the fifth place Gamblers. We caught up with former Huskies player and coach Pat Mikesch, who’s in his fourth season has GM/Head Coach of Green Bay for some input on Bliss:
Trenton is one of the most complete players in our league. He plays in every situation and is a great leader on and off the ice.
His commitment does play a little bit into the Op-ed we recently published about the gentlemen’s agreement and stockpiling recruits. As we mentioned earlier, Bliss had committed to Wisconsin back in May 2015 before the start of his senior year. In his final season with Appleton United, Bliss put up 56 points and earned the WHCA Boys Player of the Year award just four months after the coach he committed to was fired by the Badgers. Bliss remained committed the Badgers until some time around September 2017 when the Gamblers no longer listed him as a Badger recruit. After having a spectacular season with the Gamblers, Bliss committed to Michigan Tech in December 2017. The Huskies took advantage of the Badger’s over-recruiting and the coaching change but not until after Bliss and/or Wisconsin decided to part ways.
Nick Nardella on the other hand committed in February 2018 under different circumstances. His best year of junior hockey was actually last season in 39 games under Billy Muckalt for the Tri-City Storm where he put up 7 points. So far this season he has four points in 31 games but in his case especially, statistics don’t tell the whole story. The smallish forward may not have put up many points in his USHL career thus far but Neutral Zone has him rated pretty high:
3.75⭐️ prospect is a shifty, explosive skater w/ creativity and quick instincts. Can think the game with pace & seperational speed. Plays a possession & up-tempo game. Skilled, crafty and fast. Earned a B at @USHL Fall Classic. @mtuhky @GamblersHockey https://t.co/Vjavj6I6qd
— Neutral Zone (@_Neutral_Zone) February 18, 2018
THG has been told by a few other sources not to put much weight on his lack of points thus far. His size, speed and up-tempo style should fit in the mold of CJ Eick. Hopefully over the next five years, Nardella can develop more of a scoring touch like Eick did while still being impactful on the ice in all situations, including special teams. His coach, Pat Mikesch, also had some input Michigan Tech fans on Nardella:
Nick is a very skilled undersized forward with great hockey sense. The strength that he’s working to add will prepare him for the WCHA.
Both of these guys should be very useful with Bliss expected to compete for top-6 forward minutes as soon as next season. Nardella projects more as a third or fourth liner and is not expected in Houghton until 2019-2020. Since our last recruiting article, a lot of other things have happened including adding and losing a recruit (Jake Harrison). There are three more players (Andrew Bellant, Tyrell Buckley, and Parker Saretsky) that we’ll try to feature in the new future and we’re expecting MTU to add a goaltender to replace Senior netminder Devin Kero. Stay tuned as we’ll have lots more to talk about on the recruiting front in the next month or so.
Featured Image of Nick Nardella courtesy of Green Bay Gamblers