It was refreshing to walk from the heat of a sultry Sunday into the cool Xcel Energy Center for the scrimmage that ended the Minnesota Wild’s development camp.
Seems a number of fans agreed. The crowd for the free event Sunday was estimated at 7,500, bigger than the group that came to watch Thursday night.
Team White, led by two goals from Joel Broda, came out a 4-3 winner in regulation on a day that ended with an entertaining shootout. Team Green was led by Mikael Granlund’s two goals.
Greetings. Kent Youngblood here. With Mr. Russo out of the country on vacation (though I bet he live streamed the event) I was on hand to watch. Here are some impressions:
--This is not exactly news, but Granlund is really impressive. Every time he was on the ice you noticed him. He and Jason Zucker – who assisted on one of Granlund’s goals – seemed to be developing a chemistry after just a week together, and the other winger, Justin Fontaine, was able to keep up on the line.
Granlund is so smooth it almost looks like he’s not trying. “He’s just so good,” Zucker said afterward. “It’s not so much dominance, it’s just that he sees the ice. It’s just he knows where everybody is. That’s what it comes down to. It’s not that he’s bigger, faster, stronger than every guy in the world. He can just see the ice. That’s what you notice when you play with him.”
--I caught up with Houston Aeros coach John Torchetti after the scrimmage. As you might imagine, he was happy with what he saw this week and is looking forward to coaching many of these guys in Houston this fall.
“When I was interviewed for this job (a year ago), they said there would be a some good players coming through here,” he said. “They were right. I’m looking forward to this. As a staff, we’re all looking forward to this. Last year (in Houston) we weren’t as deep. This year we’re really deep. This is going to be a lot of fun.”
--Defenseman Matt Dumba, the Wild’s first-round draft pick, was impressive with his physical play. Dumba got cheers with hard hits on Christoph Bertschy and Kris Foucault during the scrimmage. “Dumba being physical today, that’s a good sign,” Torchetti said. “And he didn’t get out of his game to do it. He’s learning.”
--Charlie Coyle had a few fine moments today. He picked up an assist on Johan Larsson’s goal. Coyle also had a couple fine drives to the net. He is so big and strong it’s really hard for a defenseman to separate Coyle from the puck as he makes his way to the crease. He has a heavy shot, too.
--Zack Phillips looked pretty good today, too. He may need to work on his skating, but his skill with the puck is obvious.
--Defenseman Jonas Brodin looked very good. He didn’t stand out in an offensive sense. But his skating is impressive and he does a really good job with his positioning.
--Eagan’s Will Merchant had a very impressive goal for Team White. Merchant went into the corner, dug out the puck and skated into the right circle before scoring on a wrist shot.
--Torchetti was impressed with Brett Bulmer all week. Bulmer, who impressed the organization with his off-season conditioning – will vie very hard for a roster spot this fall. “He came here in fantastic shape,” Torchetti said.
--Torchetti had a lot of nice things to say about Broda, who had 14 goals and 27 points for the Aeros last season. “He has a heavy shot,” Torchetti said. “He knows how to take the puck to the net. Simple things. He cycles, uses his body to protect the puck. He’s close, you know. He’s close. He just needs to keep working on his foot speed.”
Here is a rundown of today’s scoring. The lines and pairings were pretty much the same as they were Thursday:
Goal 1 –Granlund scores the first goal very early, on a penalty shot. Very nice move to a backhand through the legs. 1-0 Team Green
Goal 2 – Moments after hitting the pipe, Broda evens the game on a penalty shot. 1-1
Goal 3 –Larsson scores off the rebound of Coyle’s shot from the right circle. 2-1 White.
Goal 4 –Merchant digs the puck out of the corner, walks out and scores on a wrist shot from the right circle to make it 3-1 Team White.
Goal 5 – With the half almost over, Granlund one-times a nice pass from Zucker. Joe Howe made the save, but Granlund scored on the rebound to make it 3-2 Team White.
Goal 6 – Broda scored his second goal of the scrimmage after getting a nice pass from Tyler Graovac. It was a nice move from Broda, who scored with a wrister after faking a backhand while skating across the crease. 4-2 Team White
Goal 7 – On a penalty shot, Daniel Gunnarsson pulls Team Green within 4-3, scoring five-hole on Matt Hackett.
That’s about it for today. Have a great summer.