Former UMD star Fontaine eager for shot with Wild

  • Article by: MICHAEL RUSSO , Star Tribune
  • Updated: September 20, 2013 - 7:26 AM

Former Minnesota Duluth star Justin Fontaine is getting a long look in training camp.

 

– Even Wild coach Mike Yeo says he doesn’t know how much more Justin Fontaine can prove in the minors.

Fontaine, who won an NCAA title on the Xcel Energy Center ice with Minnesota Duluth in 2011, signed a free-agent contract with the Wild after that senior season.

In two years in Houston of the AHL, Fontaine finished second and first in scoring. On Nov. 6, he will turn 26 — not exactly a young pup by prospect standards.

Fontaine came close to being called up a few times last season, but yet here we are, Fontaine entering his third year as a pro, and he has yet to make his NHL debut.

“At times it was frustrating seeing guys go up and down and you know you’re playing very well in the minors,” Fontaine said. “But you can’t worry about that. I learned that. You just stay focused until you get your chance, and then take that opportunity.”

Yeo is trying to do everything possible to put Fontaine in a position to succeed in preseason games.

In Tuesday’s opener against Columbus, Fontaine skated with top-liners Jason Zucker and Mikael Granlund until Zucker left the game in the second period with a groin injury. Fontaine was minus-2, but Yeo was impressed with how he put himself in position to score (robbed twice) and exited the defensive zone to trigger transitions.

Thursday against the Jets, he skated with veteran goal-scorer Dany Heatley and top prospect Charlie Coyle. The winger even played the power-play point. Yeo was looking for faster decision-making from Fontaine because in the NHL opposed to the AHL, “You don’t take that first option, all of sudden you run out of all options.”

“I’m ready to take the next step,” Fontaine said. “I put a lot of work in this last year and learned a lot playing in the minors, getting to develop and put in every situation. This camp is big for me to instill confidence in the coaching staff and show them what I can provide.”

Fontaine hails from Bonnyville, Alberta, about 2½ hours northeast of Edmonton. He chose Duluth because he felt he could step right in as a freshman.

He did and eventually developed impressive chemistry with Jack and Mike Connolly. Fontaine was second on the Bulldogs in scoring his sophomore, junior and senior seasons, finishing third in the WCHA in 2011 with 58 points.

Each offseason, Fontaine returns home for six weeks before returning to Apple Valley, where he works out using the ARP Wave (Accelerated Recovery Performance). Former NHL defenseman Bret Hedican and former Wild center Matt Cullen swear by it.

“It prepares your muscles for the wear and tear, and helps strengthen and stretch them so you feel a lot looser on the ice,” Fontaine said.

For Fontaine to make the Wild out of camp, it may have to come in a checking or fourth-line role because Zucker, Granlund, Coyle and Nino Niederreiter are all battling for top-nine spots.

Fontaine said he would be up for that, saying in Houston, “I played a checker-mentality role, matching lines the whole season against the other team’s top line every single shift pretty much every game. I learned how to make reads and stay above the puck.”

Yeo said: “For a guy like [Fontaine], maybe you do a great job and earn yourself a position in camp or maybe the next-best scenario is two weeks, three weeks into the season, you want to make sure you prove that if it’s an injury to the [first through fourth lines], you’re the guy to get called up.

“It’s an important audition for him.”

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

San Francisco - WP: M. Bumgarner 8 FINAL
Pittsburgh - LP: E. Volquez 0
Minnesota 10/2/14 7:25 PM
Green Bay
Buffalo 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Detroit
Chicago 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Cleveland 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Tennessee
St. Louis 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Philadelphia
Atlanta 10/5/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
Tampa Bay 10/5/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Houston 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Dallas
Baltimore 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Indianapolis
Pittsburgh 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Arizona 10/5/14 3:05 PM
Denver
Kansas City 10/5/14 3:25 PM
San Francisco
NY Jets 10/5/14 3:25 PM
San Diego
Cincinnati 10/5/14 7:30 PM
New England
Seattle 10/6/14 7:30 PM
Washington
Washington 1 FINAL
Buffalo 6
Carolina 3 FINAL
Columbus 6
Pittsburgh 2 FINAL
Detroit 0
Montreal 3 FINAL
Chicago 1
Arizona 2 FINAL
Edmonton 3
Fla Atlantic 10/2/14 6:00 PM
FIU
UCF 10/2/14 6:00 PM
Houston
Arizona 10/2/14 9:30 PM
(2) Oregon
Louisville 10/3/14 6:00 PM
Syracuse
San Diego St 10/3/14 9:00 PM
Fresno State
Utah State 10/3/14 9:15 PM
(18) BYU
(6) Texas A&M 10/4/14 11:00 AM
(12) Miss State
Ball State 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Army
Iowa State 10/4/14 11:00 AM
(21) Oklahoma State
Marshall 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Old Dominion
Southern Miss 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Middle Tennessee
(20) Ohio State 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Maryland
Purdue 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Illinois
Florida 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Tennessee
SMU 10/4/14 11:00 AM
(22) East Carolina
Virginia Tech 10/4/14 11:30 AM
North Carolina
Eastern Mich 10/4/14 1:00 PM
Akron
North Texas 10/4/14 1:30 PM
Indiana
Massachusetts 10/4/14 1:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
Tulsa 10/4/14 2:00 PM
Colorado State
New Mexico 10/4/14 2:30 PM
TX-San Antonio
(3) Alabama 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(11) Ole Miss
(14) Stanford 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(9) Notre Dame
(17) Wisconsin 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Northwestern
Navy 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Air Force
(7) Baylor 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Texas
(4) Oklahoma 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(25) TCU
Wake Forest 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(1) Florida State
NC State 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Clemson
Buffalo 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Bowling Green
Ohio U 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Central Mich
Oregon State 10/4/14 3:00 PM
Colorado
Vanderbilt 10/4/14 3:00 PM
(13) Georgia
Kansas 10/4/14 3:00 PM
West Virginia
Kent State 10/4/14 4:00 PM
Northern Ill
South Alabama 10/4/14 5:00 PM
Appalachian St
Texas-El Paso 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
(15) LSU 10/4/14 6:00 PM
(5) Auburn
UAB 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Western Ky
Texas Tech 10/4/14 6:00 PM
(23) Kansas State
Michigan 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Rutgers
Hawaii 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Rice
Toledo 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Western Mich
ULM 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Arkansas State
Georgia State 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Louisiana
Idaho 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Texas State
Memphis 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Arizona State 10/4/14 6:30 PM
(16) USC
So Carolina 10/4/14 6:30 PM
Kentucky
Pittsburgh 10/4/14 6:30 PM
Virginia
Miami-Florida 10/4/14 6:30 PM
Georgia Tech
(19) Nebraska 10/4/14 7:00 PM
(10) Michigan State
UNLV 10/4/14 7:00 PM
San Jose St
Ga Southern 10/4/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico St
California 10/4/14 9:30 PM
Washington St
Utah 10/4/14 9:30 PM
(8) UCLA
Boise State 10/4/14 9:30 PM
Nevada
Winnipeg 10/3/14 6:00 PM
Ottawa
Calgary 10/3/14 9:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Edmonton 10/4/14 3:00 PM
Toronto
Brt Columbia 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Hamilton

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: How will the Vikings do Thursday in Green Bay?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close