Minor hockey was the last time Louie Nanne lit a goalie up four times in a game.
The Edina, Minn., native doesn’t count those though. What he’s fully aware of is that he has three hat tricks on the season, the most recent coming in an 8-4 win against the Alberni Valley Bulldogs on Saturday. The third stood as the game-winning tally, his first of the season.
Asked his performance, Nanne said he was better against the Merritt Centennials in a 1-0 loss on Friday.
“Things just started to click on Saturday and I started taking more shots, which the coaches have pressured me to do,” said Nanne. “I was two-way minded but my offensive mindset was just really going I guess. The coaches are always telling me I have a decent shot so why not take it.”
The 18-year-old admits he has the tendency to hold onto the puck too long to look for the perfect opportunity to either pass or take a better shot. “Now I just have to get pucks to the net,” he said. “Get my body to the net too.”
Nanne credits Vees coach-GM Fred Harbinson with putting him with Wade Murphy and Jedd Soleway. The trio has combined for 10 goals and 16 assists against the Coquitlam Express and Bulldogs in two of their last three games.
“That’s something else,” said Nanne of their offensive eruption.
Nanne said the trio works well together because they have the best of all three worlds.
“We have Murph who can shoot and set people up,” said Nanne, who brings speed and an ability to set up with 17 assists in 37 games. “We got Soleway, who is just a big body with good hands and he’s really good at face-offs. It just kind of clicked.”
Nanne is also very aware of another stat when it comes to his offense. His 17 goals have come in nine games as he’s gone through a few dry spells.
“When I score, I tend to score in bunches,” said the former Edina Hornet. “I just have to play how I can. That’s why shooting helps me a lot.”
Nanne said just a few days ago a friend back home messaged him saying that the Minnesota Wild, who drafted him 188th overall in 2012, were showing highlights of Nanne on the big screen.
“First off, I just thought that was kind of cool,” said Nanne, named after his grandfather, the former GM of the Minnesota North Stars. “To go along with it, he said, you look so much better than you were in high school.”
Being more of a threat offensively has been a focus for Nanne. Now he said it’s paying off. Initially Nanne took his friend’s comment as a shot “below the belt” but after it got him thinking in a positive manner. Nanne has experienced mix reaction from Wild fans when they learned their NHL team drafted him. Some were happy while others he said were “irate.”
“Everyone always thought that (he was drafted) because I’m the hometown, big name kid, that it wasn’t because of hockey at all,” said Nanne. “It was all over Twitter.”
Those opinions have pushed the five-foot-11, 175 pound forward to get better.
What’s also helping Nanne is confidence. Nanne has missed 10 games this season, two for family reasons and eight to injury. The timing of the injuries have always come when he’s playing his best. The Vees coaches have told him it’s his misfortune. He’s hoping it doesn’t hold true this weekend when they play the Salmon Arm SilverBacks Friday, the Centennials on Saturday and Cowichan Valley Capitals Sunday.
As for the Vees’ play during the weekend, Nanne said they started slow in the first period against the Centennials then picked up during the second and third. In the final period they outshot the Centennials 11-5. They just couldn’t find a way to beat Centennials goalie Tyler Steel.
“Not the greatest of nights to come out slow,” said Nanne, as the Vees had 4,002 fans in attendance for the Hogs versus Hosers charity game and fundraising efforts to support the school district’s breakfast program and Feed the Valley. “Saturday, we played well but it was kind of a roller coaster game. Score a goal then next shift would be pretty bad.”
Nanne on the players’ reaction to Mark Donnelly singing the anthem: “(Chad) Katunar has quite the voice. I feel like that may have loosened us up a little. We were all drawn back and a lot of kids were kind of nervous for the game.”