The former Minnesota Duluth standout is making an impact with the Wild.
BUFFALO, N.Y. – Justin Fontaine was inundated with congratulatory text messages from friends and family members after scoring his first NHL goal 12 seconds into the Wild’s 5-1 victory over Dallas on Saturday.
Well, almost everybody.
“My mum texted me, ‘Watch your mouth,’ ” Fontaine said, laughing hard before Monday’s game against the Sabres.
Fontaine’s mother, Donna, happened to see the super-slow-motion replay of her 25-year-old son’s reaction after scoring. Some words he shouted might have warranted soap in the mouth 15 years ago.
You only get to score your first goal once, so Fontaine said, “I didn’t even know what I said. I was excited, but all my buddies found it funny.”
Minnesota Duluth, Fontaine’s alma mater, showed his goal on the big screen during the middle of its game against Michigan Tech on Saturday. Wild TV play-by-play man Anthony LaPanta’s goal call was played twice on UMD’s radio broadcast.
“That’s a city and school that really gives back, and it’s good get that kind of appreciation,” Fontaine said. “It makes me feel welcome and appreciated. I had such a great time there, and they keep supporting me.”
Fontaine might be a few weeks shy of his 26th birthday, but he is still a rookie. He was in awe Monday morning when legendary NBC Sports Network announcer Mike “Doc” Emrick sought him out to prep for that night’s telecast for the Wild-Sabres game.
But Fontaine repeated something Wild coach Mike Yeo said during his pregame meeting regarding the team and correlated it to himself.
“At this league, it’s consistency. You’ve got to show up every night or you won’t be here,” Fontaine said. “So just like the team, I’ve got to continue to play hard and build off the last few games.”
When Johan Larsson was pulled from the ice at a morning skate in San Jose last April, the 2010 Wild second-round draft pick had no clue he was being traded.
But the second he walked into the coach’s office and found Yeo waiting, “I figured it out. He said, ‘Something’s going on, so let’s just wait.’ ”
Larsson, just called up from AHL Houston for the game vs. the Sharks, finally found out he and goalie Matt Hackett were traded to Buffalo in the Jason Pominville swap.
“It was kind of shocking. You start thinking, ‘What did you do bad?’ ” said Larsson, who played the Wild for the first time Monday. “But after a while, you realize it’s a business.”
The Sabres wanted Larsson and Hackett to report to Rochester, N.Y., immediately. They were across the country in San Jose, so they flew back to Houston first to pack.
“My parents had just gotten to Houston from Sweden, too,” Larsson said, smiling. “But we’ve got good, young guys here, and I want to be part of this.”
• Jason Zucker has been automatically suspended pending review in the American Hockey League for a match penalty assessed Sunday. Playing for Iowa, Zucker was penalized for a head shot on Oklahoma City’s Linus Omark.
• Buffalo coach Ron Rolston, the brother of retired Wild forward Brian Rolston, used to coach Zucker with USA Hockey and is a big fan: “He’s just one of those competitors that finds a way to make a difference.”
• Wild defenseman Marco Scandella was scratched for a third consecutive game as Yeo returned with a lineup that had won consecutive games. Yeo said there’s a chance Scandella plays Tuesday in Toronto.
• Goalie Darcy Kuemper, who gave up four goals in Iowa’s 4-2 loss to Oklahoma City on Sunday, was recalled to back up Josh Harding on Monday. With Niklas Backstrom still working his way back from a knee injury, there’s a chance Kuemper makes his fourth career NHL start Tuesday.
|Texas - N. Martinez||2:35 PM|
|Oakland - S. Gray|
|Boston - B. Workman||6:05 PM|
|Pittsburgh - G. Cole|
|Toronto - R. Dickey||6:05 PM|
|NY Yankees - S. Greene|
|Washington - G. Gonzalez||6:10 PM|
|Miami - B. Hand|
|Los Angeles - Z. Greinke||7:05 PM|
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