HOCKEY DAY MN 2017!

Hockey day Minnesota is well underway, the first game between Mahtomedi and Thief River Falls just finished up with the Zephyrs of Mahtomedi winning 3-0. Next up is Stillwater (the host) and Eden Prairie, these two teams were both in the State Tournament last year and they each have a Tourney Championship under their belts.

As many of you know, I’m huge in traditions and this is one of them, so sticking with tradition I feel I need to answer the question they ask all day long: What does Hockey Day mean to you?

This question is both hard and easy to answer. Hard because of how long the answer could be and easy because of one word that sums it up but doesn’t do it in detail. Hockey Day means everything to me. It’s one of the best traditions there is. Minnesota has such a long hockey history that of course it needs a day to celebrate it.

Playing outside brings the game back to its roots before Zamboni’s, refrigeration and nice indoor arenas with great concession stands. Yes, the weather may be troublesome but that is the reality of playing outside and how hockey used to be before all of this technology that has brought the game so much advancement.

Hockey Day is able to bring communities together and bring out a lot of stories we never hear about, like why hockey is such a great game, what it teaches and how it has helped people. Hockey is a great game not only is it exercise but it also teaches kids responsibility and leadership skills as well as learning to deal with adversity and diversity.

Even though I may not play as much as I used to, hockey is still a part of my life. I have taken to writing about it more than playing but I still get the rush I used to when I had skates on my feet. Hockey never truly leaves you even if you stop playing and the lessons you learn stick with you for life. Hockey also builds confidence, not everyone can skate and not everyone can skate and play hockey. It takes multiple levels of talent and things you have to learn that once you do, you feel a great deal of accomplishment.

Hockey was also a connection with my family. I wanted to be just like my older cousins who played hockey and I am so glad I followed in their footsteps. I may not have continued on to play high school hockey but the years I did play I will never forget.

Hockey was also a refuge for me and when I was on the ice I was able to forget everything else going on in my life and just have fun and play a game I love. For many kids this is the truth and really is why Hockey Day means so much especially to me.

So that is what Hockey Day means to me and hockey in general. I could go on and on but I think you got the just of it. Hockey Day is a great day and I hope it never stops because I for one will never stop watching, Thanks for reading!

HOCKEY ROCKS! HAPPY HOCKEY DAY!

GO WILD!

 

IT’S HERE!!

The greatest day of the year is finally here! Well, for hockey fans it is….I’m talking HOCKEY DAY MINNESOTA! A day I personally look forward to all year and this time it’s hosted in Stillwater. Of course I visited there in December of 2015, so just over a year ago. I must say it’s a beautiful town and perfect for Hockey Day, I really wish I was going!!!

To start the day off there will be two boy’s high school hockey games, the first between Thief River Falls and Mahtomedi and following them will be a game I’m rather excited for, Eden Prairie and Stillwater. There will be a girl’s game this year but once again it’s tape delayed which I’ll be honest really ticks me off. It should be one girl’s game and one boy’s game not two and then one tape delayed. I know girl’s hockey isn’t as popular but in the State of Hockey we should be fair. They are televising one each of Women’s and Men’s college hockey why not high school? The women’s college game will be between SCSU and MSU. Then the men will take the ice with the U of M taking on Wisconsin.. can anyone say border battle!?

The last game of the evening will be the Wild facing Anaheim for the second time in just over a week. As I said in my previous blog, the Wild will have to be psyched up for this game because we all know Anaheim will be out for blood. The Wild are currently tied for third place in the ENTIRE NHL!! They are tied with Chicago and Pittsburgh, all respectively with 63 points. Minnesota sits just three points out of first place. Anaheim currently sits in 7th and with players like Corey Perry, Ryan Kesler and Ryan Getzlaf the Wild will need to score early and keep the Ducks off the scoreboard because once they start scoring it is that much harder to get them to stop.

That’s all the time I’m going to spend on those match-ups because it’s getting late and I can’t wait for HOCKEY DAY tomorrow! I hope everyone is able to catch some of the action! Thanks for reading

HOCKEY ROCKS!!

GO WILD!! and all the hockey teams playing on the glorious day!!

 

Unfamiliar Foes 

The Wild had a busy week with teams that they aren’t used to seeing because they play each other maybe twice a season. The first of the two was the New Jersey Devils which I understand why Minnesota never really plays them because they are on the East Coast and travel is a bit difficult. However, the Arizona Coyotes (formerly known as the Phoenix Coyotes, they changed their name last year or the year before due to ownership changes) are a bit closer and also in the same Conference but they rarely visit Minnesota more than once a season.

New Jersey proved to be a difficult opponent for Minnesota even though the Wild were the first on the scoreboard with a beauty of a goal by Jared Spurgeon, somehow the Devils clawed their way back in. If you haven’t seen that goal yet, you have to!!! The rest of the game was a constant battle until the end when New Jersey was able to skate away with the one goal win 4-3.

Two nights later the Wild continued their home-stand against the Coyotes, just like the previous game the Wild were able to take an early lead but couldn’t hold it as Arizona made their way back into it by the end of the second period. Going into the third the stakes were high as it was a tie game and every point is a must as we reach the later half of the season. The more points the better chance of both making the playoffs and securing a good spot if you’re lucky enough to get in.

Nino Niederreiter was the hero of the game with his second power-play goal just halfway through the third period that proved to be the game winner. Niederreiter has been making quite the name for himself with a very good season, he has 14 goals and 31 points. Besides Nino, Jason Pominville who is typically a very underrated player had a great game as well with three assists, the most of everyone in the game.

Eric Staal continues to tear his way through the season adding goals left and right including against Arizona. Staal leads the Wild with 16 goals, 24 assists and 40 points with Mikael Granlund right on his heels with 37 points. If Staal is able to keep up his scoring pace he could hit 80 points because he averages almost a point per game. The Wild’s decision to go after Staal has so far proven to be a very good choice, which I figured it would as I was very happy to see Staal join Minnesota.

Now tomorrow is Hockey Day Minnesota and is a very important day to many Minnesotans and the Wild will be facing one of their tougher opponents, Anaheim. Being the Wild just saw them a week ago, it should still be fresh in their minds how the Ducks play, however the Wild have to be careful and not get big heads just because they beat Anaheim the last time they played.

Every game is different even if it’s the same teams playing, that’s one of my favorite things about hockey, it’s never the same. Minnesota needs to be prepared and get the energy of the crowd behind them on their day to shine in the State of Hockey.The Ducks have been on a winning streak since losing to the Wild, meaning they will be looking to avenge their loss and as I just stated, Minnesota is going to have to be on their toes and not let Anaheim push them around.

I’m going to end this blog here since I’m going to try to crank out another for Hockey Day tomorrow! Thanks for reading!

HOCKEY ROCKS!

Go Wild!

 

The Formidable Rival

Now some of you may disagree with me calling the Chicago Blackhawks formidable but with the longstanding rivalry between Minnesota and Chicago, yes including the North Stars days, it seemed fitting. As much as I would like to say I hate the Blackhawks, I actually don’t. I have a respect for Chicago that any true sports fan would have to agree with and when you look at their record, it demands respect because it is hard to deny that they are a very talented team.

Chicago is one of the few teams that Minnesota has always been pretty evenly matched with. The Blackhawks play quite similar and don’t rely on just one name to win games. The fact that they have quite a few “superstars” doesn’t hurt either but it can be a hindrance when everyone knows who those players are and teams focus all their efforts on shutting those players down. Players such as Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Marian Hossa and even their defensemen like Duncan Keith, Niklas Hjalmarsson and Brent Seabrook

With that being said even those guys couldn’t put a stop to the Minnesota Wild this evening. Despite having an early two goal lead before the halfway point of the game, Chicago wasn’t safe and the saying “a two goal lead is the hardest to keep” came true. The Wild were able to answer back with two goals of their own and end the second tied.

Going into the third it was a whole new game and a clean slate until Minnesota’s Jason Pominville found the perfect opening on the side of the net for a pass from Marco Scandella that Pominville was able to slide right past Chicago goaltender Scott Darling and capture the lead for the Wild. Minnesota kept the lead for the last 15 or so minutes left in the game and took both the game and FIRST PLACE in both the Division and the Conference from the Blackhawks. Yep, the Wild are officially in sole possession of the conference! Now they just have to keep winning and not look back, there’s still 41 games left of the season and anything can happen.

The Wild have been playing some damn good hockey this season and in this game alone they held Toews to zero shots on goal which rarely happens and Devan Dubnyk stopped 33 of 35 shots with a .943 save percentage. Kane had two goals and 12 shots but hardly any team can keep him at bay no matter how good they are and the Wild were still able to come out on top. Kane isn’t always scoring goals either, he nearly had a giveaway in front of his own net that the Wild’s Mikeal Granlund almost capitalized on.

Minnesota was out-shot but their defense made sure to play the box and keep the puck to the outside or not let Chicago control it for long meaning they forced the Blackhawks to take shots. Dubnyk had full support from his team and there weren’t very many Chicago players that ended up alone in front of the net. The Wild were also good at making Chicago panic with the puck and make blind passes that wouldn’t connect.

One thing the Wild need to focus on is staying out of the box in the last-minute of the game. I know this doesn’t happy all the time but Ryan Suter received a penalty in the last 40 seconds or so and at that time in the game with a one goal lead we need all of our players on the ice. It wasn’t an intentional penalty by any means but the Wild really need to keep an eye on that. Overall they only had six penalty minutes while Chicago had four and that is quite low for these two teams when they play each other.

The Wild now get to head for home and earned a day off before they face off against Zach Parise’s former team the New Jersey Devils who currently sit 12th in their conference and are 500. on the season. Former Edmonton Oiler Taylor Hall is now with the Devils and Parise’s former teammate from both the Devils and his time with the University of North Dakota Fighting Sioux, Travis Zajac is still skating with the DEvils as well (Yes, I had to throw UND in there of course!). So it will be an interesting match-up as always whenever a a Wild player’s former team shows up.

The game will start at 7pm at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul on Tuesday evening. The Wild will be looking to defend their first place standing and continue to grab all those points necessary for playoffs. Thanks for reading!

Hockey rocks!

The Former North Stars

Tonight the Wild will face the Dallas Stars, or as most Minnesota fans know them as… the former North Stars. There are still quite a few people who are upset over that whole deal that went down right before/during the time I was born. I think I was about three months old when the Stars moved south to Texas.

But now the Wild are here and have established a home in the short 16-17 years they’ve been playing in the beautiful Xcel Energy Center located just off the Mississippi River in downtown St. Paul. The Wild won’t have that hometown feel tonight as they visit Dallas.

Both teams are coming off victories and it will also prove to be a big game points-wise. The Wild could tie for first place in the division with a victory and could take over first place tomorrow when they face the Chicago Blackhawks who currently sit atop the division and conference.

This is a big game for the Stars because they could climb closer to getting into a Wild Card position for the playoffs. They would also need Nashville to lose and the Predators are playing Colorado, so who knows with that one.

The Stars season has been a bit more difficult than the Wild with the team’s stats just floating above .500. This struggle may be in part due to Ales Hemsky’s hip injury that happened back in October and has caused him to miss 37 games thus far. He has already missed almost three of the expected 5-7 months, more than likely the rest of the season will be without him playing. He has played one total game this season and that was the game he was injured in. Last season he had 39 points with 13 goals and 26 assists so Dallas could really use his presence but it may not be until next season.

The Wild’s line-up will be the same as the Habs game and it is as follows:

Parise-Staal-Coyle

Zucker-Koivu-Granlund

Neiderreiter-Haula-Pominville

Schroeder-Graovac-Stewart

This line-up seems to have been working well for Minnesota and we’ll see if it continues especially with Staal who has truly thrived this season with Parise and Coyle as his line-mates. Apparently Kuemper will start tonight because of the Wild’s back-to-back so Dubnyk can start tomorrow against Chicago. Hopefully Kuemper is ready and on top of his game.

The game will be at 7 pm central time and it sounds like it could be a very good game being both teams are vying for every point they can get. There’s also the heated rivalry of the former Minnesota team and the current that will most likely never go away. Thanks for reading!

Hockey rocks!

 

Player Celebration: Charlie Coyle

Charlie, Charlie, Charlie yes Charlie Coyle the Minnesota Wild player who became famous after he waved to a fan in the crowd and it was the most adorable thing ever! If you haven’t seen it yet you should definitely go on YouTube and find it, it’ll brighten your day!

Charlie joined the Wild back in 2012 and he made a name for himself rather quickly, in that season alone he had eight goals as a rookie, it’s pretty rare for a rookie to even get one goal let alone eight. He also assisted on six other goals leaving him with 14 points in his short season. Mind you, Charlie only played 37 total games as well which is just short of half a season, many rookies also don’t get that chance either.

I remember when Coyle first showed up and everyone was like “who the heck is this kid?” and soon everyone knew who he was and the next season he was pretty much a household name and hasn’t had a less than 30 point season in the last four years.

Charlie worked his way up to the first line and was often partners with Captain Mikko Koivu. No matter who Coyle is paired with he usually does fine and often times makes the other players around him better. When he is with the team a bit longer, he could have the potential to be a captain.

Coyle sits second on the team in points right behind Eric Staal and in front of Mikael Granlund. He has 33 points in just 40 games played with a faceoff percentage of 50 which is pretty good considering our top center has 55%. Charlie also has three game winning goals, if he keeps this up he could have a 60-70 point season and shatter his past season highs.

With the way the Wild are playing, Charlie could very well hit those marks and he has greatly helped their play. The Wild just need to keep on track and focus on getting better every game despite if it’s a win or loss and Charlie is a big part in that since he is an up and coming youngster at the ripe age of 24 with many more seasons to go and we hope they are with the Wild! Thanks for reading!

Hockey Rocks!

Two Points

The Minnesota Wild have been playing some outstanding hockey as of late and have secured themselves a second place spot in both the Division and the Western Conference with just 40 games played. The Wild are just two points out of first place, trailing the Chicago Blackhawks who have played four more games than Minnesota, which means the Wild could have a chance to tie or get ahead of Chicago when the time comes for the games to even out.

Minnesota is coming off a recent 7-1 defeat of the Montreal Canadians last evening in St. Paul at the Xcel Energy Center. Six different Wild players had goals in the fury of scoring including Nino Niederreiter who contributed two goals.

Eric Staal and Matt Dumba also had great games, they both had three points each. Staal had one goal and two assists while Dumba had three assists. Goaltender Devan Dubnyk had a pretty good game also as he stopped 20 shots out of 21 and he had a .952 save percentage.

The Wild’s next opponent will be the Dallas Stars in Dallas, yes the Wild will be on another road trip after recently getting back from California where they played three games and went 2-1. Dallas isn’t having such a great season, the Stars are just above .500 and are fifth in the division. They are coming off a recent victory over the Detroit Red Wings so the Wild better be on top of their game to stay in front of Dallas no matter what the records are.

The game will start at 7 pm in Dallas tomorrow evening. Thanks for reading!

Hockey Rocks!