Aaron Ness is ready for his close-up.
The standout defenseman who led the Roseau Rams to an undefeated regular season and a berth in the state championship has completed the last trial en route to the NHL Entry Draft, which takes place June 20-21 in Ottawa.
After a successful run with Team USA at the Under-18 Championship in Kazan, Russia, Ness put himself to work training for the NHL draft combine, a multi-day event in Toronto consisting of sit-down interviews with NHL teams and grueling physical fitness tests, which has famously left some prospects sick to their stomachs.
Because Ness will be attending the University of Minnesota next year, he was limited to a 48-hour window in which to participate in the combine, as per NCAA regulations.
That meant a very busy schedule.
The young blueliner arrived in Toronto on the Wednesday and almost immediately ripped off six interviews with NHL teams. Thursday proved to be even more hectic, as Ness chatted with 20 more teams.
“It was quite a long day,” he said. “From 8:05 a.m. to 6:05 p.m. I had ’em straight through.”
While the teams often use the interviews to see how prospects react to out-of-left-field questions, the scouts and management also quiz players on their strengths and weaknesses.
“The common theme was my size,” said the 5-foot-10, 160-pound Ness. “They wanted to know what I’m going to do to compete against guys who are 6-foot-2, 6-foot-3 in the NHL. I told them I’ll use what I’ve got; my speed, stick skills and smarts.”
As for the dreaded fitness test, which Ness took early Friday morning, training for the exercises was key.
“Right when I got back from Russia, I just did it every day,” he noted. “I would do a half-hour on the bike just to get my legs.”
While Ness acquitted himself quite well at the fitness test, the two stationary bike tests are killers for everyone. The Wingate test involves pedaling as fast as possible for 30 seconds, while the VO2 Max goes on for much longer and consists of a ratcheting up of tension against the rider as it goes. So which was tougher?
“If we did them on different days, I’d say the Wingate,” Ness offered. “It’s like a knife in your legs. You’re sucking wind.”
With the testing over, Ness now waits for his moment when he will be called to the stage by an NHL franchise. He won’t be the first Roseau Ram to have the honor and he certainly won’t be the last.
Goaltender Mike Lee has already stated he wants to be the first Ram to tend net in the NHL and will prepare for the task by suiting up for the USHL’s Fargo Force next year. Power forward Nick Oliver is already committed to St. Cloud State once he completes high school and diminutive dynamo Adam Knochenmus will surely raise eyebrows as his career matures.
And so the Year of the Ram comes to a close. Many thanks to coach Scott Oliver and his staff, Tracy ‘Bobcat’ Ostby, Connie Koenig, Cary Olson, Kim Drown, Peggy Hedlund, the parents, the town of Roseau and of course, the Rams themselves.
The Hockey News has been following the Roseau Rams high school hockey team every week, chronicling its journey on the road back to the state championship and beyond and providing an inside look at what its like to be a teenager on one of the most fabled varsity teams in America.
Click HERE to read previous Year of the Ram stories.
For more great stories and features like this, subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.
by Ryan Kennedy - 2008-06-05 14:17:00
It's the final installment of THN's season-long look at the Roseau Rams high school program in Minnesota.
Aaron Ness is ready for his close-up. The standout defenseman who led the Roseau Rams to an undefeated regular season and a berth in the state championship has completed the last trial en route to the NHL Entry Draft, which takes place June 20-21 in Ottawa.
by Ryan Kennedy - 2008-05-15 14:31:42
The Rams, already without Aaron Ness, will now miss star goaltender Mike Lee who decided to move on next season.
When the Roseau Rams began thinking about their quest for another state title next season, they knew they would be doing so without their best player, NHL draft-eligible defenseman Aaron Ness.
by Ryan Kennedy - 2008-05-01 11:50:05
This week in our look at the Roseau high school program, standout blueliner Aaron Ness heads to Russia.
Minnesota and Kazan, Russia are about as geographically far apart as you can get in the world, but when Roseau Rams defenseman Aaron Ness got the call from Team USA, it was a no-brainer he would be getting on that plane.
by Ryan Kennedy - 2008-04-17 10:44:00
Our ongoing look at the Roseau high school program focuses on what some of the Rams are doing in the off-season.
It’s been more than a month since the Roseau Rams ended their season on a down note at the state championships and the team has understandably moved on.
by Ryan Kennedy - 2008-04-03 13:22:16
The Rams season is done, but hockey lives on as our year-long look at the Roseau high school program continues.
The sixth annual Roseau old-timers tournament took place on the weekend, a gathering that has doubled the number of teams since its inception and draws a wide array of former Rams and other Northern Minnesota hockey folk.
by Ryan Kennedy - 2008-03-20 13:43:35
In our continuing look at the Roseau high school program, the season may be done, but hockey is not far from the Rams' minds.
Trying to contact one of the Roseau Rams on a weeknight after their season has finished would seem to be an easy task, but as always, most of them are at the rink after dinner.
by Ryan Kennedy - 2008-03-13 11:53:05
The Roseau high school team's season comes to an end in disappointing fashion.
In the book White Fang by Jack London, the titular wolf-dog tears through a slew of other canines in grisly fights, only to be stymied by a bulldog whom he cannot turn over.
by Ryan Kennedy - 2008-03-06 13:40:36
The Rams begin the state championships in this edition of our season-long look at the Roseau high school program.
About this time last year, Roseau Rams right winger Jason Fabian was experiencing brutal, crushing pain on two different levels. The first level was emotional: Despite the fact Roseau had won the sectional championship, Fabian would not be playing in the state tournament.
by Ryan Kennedy - 2008-02-28 14:06:43
As our on-going coverage of the Roseau high school program continues, the Rams head to the state championship.
The vibrations in Minnesota are getting stronger every day. As the sectional championship results begin to trickle in, fans from across the state are using whatever medium possible – TV, radio, Internet radio, message boards – to follow their favorite high school teams and create new legends out of wide-eyed teenagers.
by Ryan Kennedy - 2008-02-21 11:29:30
This week in our ongoing look at the Roseau high school program, the Rams enter do-or-die playoff territory.
Patrick Sandland can see the end coming. It could be this weekend, it could be next month, but it’s coming. “I just hope it’s in the state championship,” said the senior defenseman.
by Ryan Kennedy - 2008-02-14 14:36:30
This week's edition of our yearlong look at the Roseau high school program focuses on life away from the rink with a group of Ram friends.
In what was, on paper, one of the team’s better foes and, in reality, one of its most grueling tests, the Roseau Rams defeated the Blaine Bengals 1-0 in an outdoor game played last Saturday on Baudette Bay in northern Minnesota.
by Ryan Kennedy - 2008-02-07 13:10:45
In this week's installment of our season-long look at the Roseau high school program, the kids prepare for an outdoor game against Blaine.
It’s difficult to say an undefeated team scoring more goals than they were at the beginning of the year is heading towards malaise, but that’s exactly what coach Scott Oliver hoped to prevent when he put together the schedule for his Roseau Rams this season.