The most excitement Wild fans have gotten in weeks came Monday night when 1,400 miles away, one of the slumping team’s prized prospects scored in overtime to give Boston College a 1-0 victory over Boston University for the Beanpot championship.
The snipe from between the circles came from sophomore Alex Tuch, the Wild’s 2014 first-round draft pick who was taken 18th overall.
“The picture says it all. I just freaked out,” Tuch said by phone Tuesday. “I tried to find [goalie Thatcher] Demko right away and I couldn’t even find him. It’s the biggest goal I’ve scored in college. I was almost in tears. Just a surreal feeling. I couldn’t have picked a better group of guys to do it with.”
Tuch crossed into the offensive zone, skated right, took BU’s defenders with him and when he spotted Zach Sanford going to the net, he snapped a shot against the grain 1 minute, 57 seconds into overtime for his 11th goal of the season.
“I usually shoot high, but I shot it low and hard and just didn’t want it to get blocked,” Tuch, 19, said. “It just found a way through two guys. I was shocked it went post and in.”
It’s hard for hockey fans outside of Boston to understand why winning the Beanpot is so big.
“It’s the four big teams in Boston, and you battle it out every year,” Tuch sad. “You want to be the pride of Boston.”
Tuch hopes the Eagles can beat Notre Dame for the Hockey East regular-season championship, then win the Hockey East tournament before an eventual aspiration of winning the national championship.
“I think we’ll do it,” Tuch said. “We showed it last night. We have the best goalie in the country, we’re really deep offensively, our defense is solid. We have a great leadership and coaching.”
The Wild likely would come calling when the college seasons ends, but Tuch said, “It’s still way premature. You’ll know when I know.”
Vanek, Zucker return
Forwards Thomas Vanek and Jason Zucker, scratched Saturday in St. Louis, returned Tuesday against the Stars.
Asked if he got anything out of the benching, Vanek, who had one assist and was minus-8 in his previous eight games, said, “No. There’s nothing positive from it for me. … Doesn’t take a scratch for me to realize I need to be better.”
In the first period, Vanek certainly was better. He assisted on the Wild’s two goals.
Zucker, who had one assist his previous 11 games, said, “For me, it’s just trying to get back to my game that I know I can get to.”
Coach Mike Yeo was looking for a “response.” He said it also was a message for the team that was 1-9-1 in its previous 11 games that he won’t hesitate to scratch underperformers.
“That’s not a one-game thing,” he said. “This is going forward as well. Whether it’s them, whether it’s somebody else, this is something we have to continue to be prepared to do.”
Reilly back up
Defenseman Mike Reilly, who debuted against the Stars on Jan. 9, played his fifth game. He has started to play better for the resurgent Iowa Wild, which is 9-6-1 since Dec. 27 after a 5-22-2 start.
“My two-way game is rounding out,” Reilly said. “It’s been more fun coming to the rink [with Iowa].”
Reilly replaced Jared Spurgeon, who missed Tuesday’s game because of a bruised leg. He skated Tuesday morning and is a possibility to play Thursday against Washington.