Ness bolts Minnesota for Islanders deal

Minnesota junior defenseman Aaron Ness has given up his senior season with the Gophers to sign a three-year entry-level contract with the New York Islanders.

Ness will report to the Islanders’ American Hockey League affiliate, the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, and play out the remainder of the 2010-11 season.

“Aaron made tremendous strides this year physically and in the defensive part of his game,” Minnesota head coach Don Lucia said in a statement. “He was a terrific leader and you could count on him to be the hardest worker in practice and he competed hard in every game. At 20, he has a bright future ahead of him. We will miss Aaron, but appreciate all he did for Gopher hockey.”

Ness, drafted by the Islanders in the second round (40th overall) of the 2008 NHL draft, played in 35 games this season, recording 14 points (two goals, 12 assists). He concludes his collegiate career with 111 games played and 43 points on six goals and 37 assists.