Souhan: Goal Jason Zucker, with assists to his Las Vegas brothers

  • Article by: JIM SOUHAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: February 18, 2013 - 11:47 AM
hide

Jason Zucker celebrated after scoring his first career NHL goal in the second period.

Photo: Carlos Gonzalez, Star Tribune

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

The Wild's 3-2 victory over the Red Wings was in some part due to the still-unexplained urge of Adam and Evan Zucker to drag their little brother to roller hockey games while growing up in Las Vegas. If not for them, the pivotal roster spot in Sunday's game might have been filled by some Canadian kid who likes to pass, and then where would the Wild be?

"I have to give all the credit to my brothers," Jason Zucker said. "I don't know what got them into it or why they got me into it, but they did."

Zucker played mini-hockey in the house and roller hockey whenever he could. By "6 or 7" he had begun playing hockey on ice in a city where the substance is used mostly in free drinks. Sunday, Zucker became the first Vegas product to score a goal in the NHL.

Called up from the Houston Aeros to face Detroit, Zucker joined the second line. In the second period, after Dany Heatley's goal had cut the Red Wings' lead to 2-1, Zucker displayed the kind of speed Wild fans haven't seen up close since Marian Gaborik's last groin injury.

Zucker battled for a puck deep in his own zone. He sped around one Wing, then deked past Valtteri Filppula. Zucker burst past Mikael Samuelsson, creating a 2-on-1 with teammate Devon Setoguchi.

Decision time. Most young players defer to veterans. Zucker describes himself as "a shooter first. I'm not exactly a passer. I just put the puck on net."

The Wild took Zucker in the second round of the 2010 draft, 59th overall, hoping he would develop into a depth player. Zucker had other ideas. He pushes himself through strenuous summer workouts involving MMA training and insisted on thinking of himself as a scorer.

He didn't have to hire anyone to help him with his confidence. That appears to be a natural gift.

"I would say a lot of guys do come in and think, 'OK, I've got to defer to the older players, I've got to get them the puck,'" Wild coach Mike Yeo said. "Anyone who's around him knows he's full of confidence."

Yeo laughed out loud at his understatement. "I mean that as a compliment," Yeo said, still smiling. "He knows that he's a shooter, and he's here to be a shooter, and he's got confidence in his shot, and it shows. I think it's very mature on his part in that situation not to defer. I think when you have shooters, it ends up having a positive effect on the rest of the group."

So does speed. Zucker's sprint down the side boards was more remindful of Adrian Peterson than any Wild players of recent vintage. He left three Wings in his ice shavings and faced a fourth as he approached the net.

"It was, 'I gotta pass it, I gotta pass it, I gotta pass it,'" Zucker said.

Then the defenseman leaned toward Setoguchi. Or maybe just thought about Setoguchi.

"That opened up the shot," Zucker said. "I have a shot-first mentality and that's just what I tried to do."

His wrister tied the score and sent Zucker's father home with the puck from the first NHL goal scored by a kid who grew up on roller skates in Nevada.

Zucker was part of the 2010 draft class that gave the Wild, via pick or trade, Johan Larsson, Charlie Coyle and Mikael Granlund. Include Jonas Brodin, and the Wild could soon have a bunch of talented youngsters filling the roster. Zucker wants them to know that they should feel free to decoy the defense while he shoots.

"Roller hockey is more of a finesse game, but I'm not exactly a finesse player," Zucker said. "I try to battle. I go to the net hard, and I shoot the puck. You can't score if you don't shoot. It's the old Gretzky saying."

Wayne Gretzky holds the NHL record for goals scored. He also holds the record for assists, but don't tell Zucker. He's on a roll.

Jim Souhan can be heard Sundays from 10 a.m. to noon on 1500-AM. His Twitter name is SouhanStrib. jsouhan@startribune.com

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

San Francisco - M. Bumgarner 7:07 PM
Pittsburgh - E. Volquez
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 6:00 PM
Buffalo
Carolina 6:00 PM
Columbus
Pittsburgh 6:30 PM
Detroit
Montreal 7:30 PM
Chicago
Arizona 8:00 PM
Edmonton
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
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Which local pro team are you most excited about?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close