Michael Russo has covered the National Hockey League since 1995. He has covered the Minnesota Wild for the Star Tribune since 2005, after 10 years of covering the Florida Panthers for the Sun-Sentinel. He uses “Russo’s Rants” to feed a wide-ranging hockey-centric discussion with readers, and can be heard weekly on KFAN (100.3 FM) radio and seen weekly on Fox Sports North.

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Hockey Day Minnesota kicks off on Matt Cullen's outdoor rink; Zucker stars in front of Wild GM; Long Island mayhem

Posted by: Michael Russo under Wild news, Wild pregame skate Updated: February 12, 2011 - 9:36 AM

Good Saturday morning to you. It's Hockey Day in Minnesota.

The fifth annual celebration opens with a pair of outdoor games in Moorhead on the outdoor rink paid for by Wild center Matt Cullen and concludes with a Wild game at Xcel Energy Center. Here are Saturday's key games, all televised on FSN:

10 a.m.: Wayzata vs. Roseau, at Moorhead

1:30 p.m.: Moorhead vs. Hill-Murray, at Moorhead

5 p.m.: Gophers vs. Denver, Mariucci Arena

8 p.m.: Wild vs. St. Louis, Xcel Energy Center

Here is the Matt Cullen feature I did from Moorhead before the season

By the way, check out cullyskids.com. It's an incredible Children's Foundation really guided by Cullen's wife, Bridget. They give so much back to their community.

The Cullen Children’s Foundation awarded $135,050 in grants to seven local nonprofit organizations that support children’s healthcare needs with an emphasis on cancer. Recipients include: 

· Kamp KACE; HOPE Inc.; Lend-A-Hand;Make-A-Wish Foundation; Riding on Angels’ Wings;TNT Fitness;Outdoor Adventure Program 

The Cully’s Kids Weekend, held in Fargo on July 16 and 17, 2010, raised just over $395,000 for local kids. The remainder of the Foundation’s 2010 fundraising efforts has been directed toward an endowment fund. 2011 Cully’s Kids Weekend events will be held July 15 and 16.

Also, check out the Pond Hockey Book and Movie store here. Through this weekend,100% of the proceeds from sales in their online store benefit Cully's Kids in the fight against childhood cancer.

Last night, the Wild rallied four times to force a shootout and beat the Blues in St. Louis. John Madden scored in the ninth round. Pierre-Marc Bouchard, Mikko Koivu and Brent Burns also scored in the shootout, Jose Theodore recovered from a rough start to the shootout, Martin Havlat tied the game in the final minute and Cal Clutterbuck scored twice and Andrew Brunette once.

Watching the highlights here, Kyle Brodziak was tremendous. Check out the highlights and look at his work on Clutterbuck's two goals.

Here is Kent Youngblood's very good game story

Tonight is Part 2 at the X. Late 8 p.m. faceoff. Niklas Backstrom in net. If there's news from the Wild's optional morning skate, I will update.

Remember, the AHL Western Conference-leading Houston Aeros, who as usual won last night, play a rare game at Xcel Energy Center tomorrow (Sunday) at 1 p.m. vs. the Peoria Rivermen. Tickets are $15 in advance (Ticketmaster/Xcel box office) and $20 at the door. Wild players will all be signing at $10 autograph tables to benefit the Wild Foundation before the game. Aeros players will sign for free after the game.

The doors open at 11:30 a.m.

Last night, I took in the Gophers-Pioneers game at Mariucci. It was a good night to be the Minnesota Wild GM.

Chuck Fletcher, there in person, got to watch Wild prospect Erik Haula score on a nice redirection and got to watch Denver University Wild prospect Jason Zucker show off with his explosive speed and hockey sense.

In a 2-1 DU win, Zucker only assisted on the first goal and scored the winning goal by literally making something out of nothing with incredible acceleration. He got the puck on a 2-on-2 and absolutely stunned Aaron Ness. Zucker wheeled around a flatfooted Ness to basically crease a short breakaway and finish the goal in tight. He also had seven shots and four blocked shots.

Zucker now has 18 goals. I still think the Wild will want him to return to school next season.

Lastly, the Wild have had a few isolated situations at the Xcel Energy Center Box office over the past month with ticket buyers purchasing fraudulent tickets from external resale agents and unauthorized sources.

From the Wild:

Make sure your tickets are official by purchasing from authorized sales and resale agents. Don’t risk purchasing tickets, which may turn out to be fraudulent, from unauthorized sources.

The ONLY authorized ticket resale service for Minnesota Wild tickets is Ticketmaster’s TicketExchange. TicketExchange is the go-to buying and selling option for Wild fans because there are no surprises—payment and delivery are automatic and 100% guaranteed.

Tickets purchased from any other source may not be valid. The Minnesota Wild and Xcel Energy Center cannot honor, replace or refund invalid tickets. Invalid tickets must be confiscated by the Xcel Energy Center box office. A copy of the fraudulent tickets will be provided at the customer’s request. TicketExchange is the only ticket resale site that is able to authenticate that a Minnesota Wild ticket is valid.

Customers with invalid tickets are welcome to purchase replacement tickets, but seating locations and pricing is based on availability.

Double lastly, let's hope the NHL throws the book at guys like Trevor Gillies and Matt Martin at least. After watching the video, I do feel Brent Johnson egged Micheal Haley on and basically called him down there for a goalie fight. Eric Godard definitely gone for 10 games for fighting after leaving the bench.

But this is despicable stuff by Martin (Todd Bertuzziesque minus the broken neck as payback for Maxime Talbot's hit on Blake Comeau in the previous meeting) and Gillies, who after head-hunting and punching an injured player, then taunts that injured player. Send a message to this classless guy. Here are the videos:

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