Sad Wild fans tired of the team's slump, there is hope out there.
Two prospects of the Wild -- Charlie Coyle and Jason Zucker -- both had three-point nights as the U.S. routed Denmark 11-3 on Monday in one of the four games on the first day of the World Junior Championships in Alberta.
Coyle had a hat trick for the U.S. team. He scored 24 seconds into the game. Scored on a power play in the second period. And had the 10th goal midway through the third period. Coyle was playing at Boston University, but word came out he was leaving school for St. John's a powerful team in the Quebec Major Junior League recently.
Zucker, a sophomore at Denver and the team captain, had one goal and three assists.
Kyle Rau, a freshman left winger for the Gophers, had two goals for the U.S. in the second period when they outscored the Danes 6-0 to take a commanding 9-2 lead. His first goal came on a rebound, his second came when Austin Watson took a shot and it ricocheted off Rau's pads into the net on a power play. Still counts, of course.
But the best news for Gophers fans has to be that sophomore center Nick Bjugstad played. He missed the team's three exhibition games as he recovered from an injury suffered Dec. 10 against Michigan Tech. Reportedly its a shoulder injury.
He played on a line with Rau against the Danes and scored early in the second period to give the U.S. a 4-2 lead. As it turned out, his goal was the game-winner. He had two goals in the World Juniors last season -- in the U.S. team's first and last games -- and both were game-winners, too.
Bjugstad didn't get much wood on his shot from the right side, maybe that fooled the goalie because it snuck in. His goal came at even-strength but he was also playing on the U.S. team's power play albeit in an unusual spot for him. He was one of the two player on the points.
The U.S. team outshot the Danes 44-24 but it was a competitive game for one period. The U.S. lead only 3-2 after the first period. Denmark was three-for-three on power plays, but did not score at even strength.
* Forward Johan Larsson, captain of Sweden's team and another Wild prospect, suffered a contusion on his thigh in the first period of its game. Sweden beat Latvia 9-4. Larson had an assists on the Swedes' first goal but left the game after he was hurt and did not return. Word from Sweden's camp was that they were just being cautious and the injury was not serious. ... Defenseman Jonas Brodin, a first round Wild pick in 2011, had two assists.
* Canada's captain Jaden Schwartz, a sophomore forward for Colorado College, had two assists as the Canadians rolled over Finland 8-1.