Jordan Willert couldn't contain his happiness on Saturday if he tried.
The Minot native played in his first collegiate hockey game in more than a year and a half when he suited up with the Minot State University club team (1-0) in its season opener against Iowa State University.
Willert was glowing during team introductions as he anxiously shuffled his skates at Maysa Arena.
Minot State University senior Jordan Willert looks to make a play against Iowa State University on Saturday at Maysa Arena.
"It was a lot of fun," Willert said. "It's been kind of a long year away from the game and it's just really fun to get back out there. These guys are like family already and it's just, you know, they're like brothers."
Willert played three seasons with the University of Nebraska-Omaha before returning home to assist his family with flood damage.
At 6-foot-4 and 250 pounds, Willert looked double the size of much of the ISU roster. When pucks dropped into the corners, he patiently waited for support as opponents unsuccessfully tried to move him or move around him. The Beavers won 4-1.
"He dictates how things operate," MSU coach Wade Regier said. "When he's going in the corners, there's no one stopping him just because of his size and his skill. I think more than anything else it's just his high hockey IQ is just that much higher than everybody else."
Willert's weight in Omaha was listed at 224 and the Beavers' newcomer knows he still has some conditioning to do.
"We can practice for four months and I don't think, you know, anybody would be in game shape," Willert said. "So it's gonna take a couple games to get back and get the legs to where they need to be - a couple extra bike sessions in there and stuff like that. But other than that, it felt all right. Hands we're OK and (I'm) thinking the game fine."
Regier is also happy to have a Division I-caliber player on the ice because he knows that Willert's local celebrity will be bringing more fans to home games.
"He's got a huge following," Regier said. "He's a very popular guy off the ice, so he's got a lot of friends that come to games to support him and I think he was excited too."
Willert looks to get his first point of the season on Friday (7:30 p.m.) in the first game of two at Briercrest College in Saskatchewan. The two teams play again at 2:30 p.m. Saturday.
Tauros add two defensemen
For the second straight week, the Minot Minotauros will play a home series with fresh insight on the visiting team.
On Tuesday, the Tauros traded this year's No. 1 overall draft pick - Dan Sherer - to the Fresno Monsters for two defensemen, a tender, a second-round draft pick and a player to be named later.
Minot hosts Fresno (Calif.) at 7:35 p.m. on Friday and Saturday and newly aquired defensemen Dave Dalbec and Carl Witty will know a fair amount about the Monsters' style of play.
"Both got a year under their belt," Minot coach Marty Murray said. "The Dalbec kid is a stay-at-home defenseman. He plays tough.
"Witty may be a little more offensive-minded."
Two weeks earlier, Minot picked up Steven Sherman from Wenatchee (Wash.), a team the Tauros (0-6) lost to twice last weekend.
Fresno (3-3) is tied with Kenai River (Alaska) for last place in the four-team West Division.
Dalbec had one goal in five appearances this season and Witty also scored once through two appearances.
Dalbec, a 19-year-old from Superior, Wisc., played in 39 games with Fresno last season and finished with four points. Witty, a 19-year-old from Trevose, Penn., played in 42 games with Fresno last season and finished with six points.