“Dream. Work Hard, Believe, Achieve, Reflect, Repeat.”
Those were the words of Kurtis Gabriel’s mom, Kim, in a congratulations card she slipped under his hotel room door the morning after the Wild winger’s NHL debut Nov. 10 against Winnipeg.
The kicker is Kim apparently bought the card almost 2 ½ years ago when Gabriel was drafted in the third round by the Wild. She saved it in a dresser drawer until he reached his dream of making his NHL debut.
“She bought the card when I got drafted knowing the day I’d play would eventually come,” Gabriel said. “She had to leave for the airport at 4 a.m., we had a good dinner after the game, and I slept in and didn’t say goodbye.
“She was staying down the hall and slipped the card under my hotel door. It was nice to wake up and see that. She knew that day would come and hard work pays off if you believe in yourself. It was a special moment.”
Gabriel posted a picture of the card on his Instagram account with a note to his “mum,” saying he’s “way too lucky to have someone like you as my mother, it’s not fair to everyone else. It has and will always give me an advantage in life.”
Gabriel, who could be returned to Iowa on Saturday with Justin Fontaine expected to return from a sprained knee, played his third NHL game Friday against Winnipeg. He tried to pump up the Wild by fighting heavyweight Anthony Peluso 2:14 into the game.
Zach Parise returned from a sprained knee Friday, registering one shot in 18:28 of ice time in his first game since Nov. 5.
“Physically I felt fine,” he said. “I felt a little behind in the conditioning, but I was kind of expecting that. I feel like we didn’t really have the puck much. It was tough to really create anything.
“It was a frustrating game to play, and I’m sure it was a frustrating game to watch as well. … It felt like we played on two-thirds of the rink.”
First one’s easy
Connor Hellebuyck, Christian Folin’s former University of Massachusetts-Lowell teammate who backstopped the United States to a bronze medal at the world championships last spring, made 14 saves in his NHL debut as Winnipeg’s goalie Friday.
Folin, the Wild defenseman, called Hellebuyck one of his best friends.
“We had a life skills class my first year,” Folin said. “They said, ‘What’s your goal?’ and he said, ‘I’m going to be in the NHL in two years.’ No one else said anything like that. Some guys were thinking about it, but no one really said it out loud.
“That was my first big impression I got of him: ‘This guy hasn’t even played a game yet, and he said he’s going to be in the NHL in two years?’ It took him three years, but he’s here.”