Ivy life of Riley

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:58 AM ET

There were stronger hockey programs that Riley Nash could have enrolled in, but for him, joining his brother at an Ivy League school was a no brainer.

And if a guy has brains enough to get into Cornell, it's pretty tough to second guess the decision.

"I wanted an education," said Nash, the third player selected by Edmonton in the first round last season (21st overall). "If I just wanted to play hockey, I'd go to the WHL, but I wanted a good education and it's first class there. They have great coaches and a rich hockey tradition.

"I didn't see any negatives that went along with that decision. This is also a lot easier on the family because my brother plays there."

He'd have faced better competition had he selected Michigan, North Dakota or Wisconsin, but there's no knocking what he's done there in his first year - 32 points in 36 games.

"He was rookie of the year, he was an all-star, he stepped in as a freshman and earned his ice," said Oilers VP of hockey operations Kevin Prendergast. "We knew when we drafted him he was a special player. He does everything right. He's not exceptional at any part of the game, but his whole game is very solid."

The six-foot-one, 175 pound centre, a projected third liner in the NHL, is getting his first taste of a professional atmosphere at Edmonton's prospect development camp and can't wait to make the NHL.

"Fairly soon would be good," he said. "If I get bigger and stronger I feel like I'm ready to play a full year in the pros and do well at it."


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