With the game starting about two hours earlier than you’d typically expect for a mid-week contest, the Minnesota Wild appeared to have more jump in its skates than it showed on Monday. Despite the faster pace of play, neither club was able to create much in the way of offensive chances through the first 5-6 minutes. Minnesota would finally break the stalemate as Ryan Suter would take a pass from Kirill Kaprizov and he’d move down near the boards and he’d look towards Victor Rask who was camped out near the net but he’d instead thread a pass into the slot where a roving Jared Spurgeon was able to redirect it on goal and by Ryan Miller. 1-0 Wild.
The good feelings of the goal would be short-lived as the Ducks would score 24 seconds later as Anaheim’s 4th line moved in and it was Derek Grant scoring on a tap in from near the Wild’s crease. With the game tied at 1-1, the physical intensity would start to ramp up as Joey Cramarossa would take a hit from the Ducks’ Max Jones and Cramarossa would drop the gloves. It was a spirited fight as Jones tried ducking his head as he threw punches but Cramarossa would get leverage and start throwing some haymakers of his own. The fight ended in a draw but that was only the start of the fisticuffs. Moments later, it was Carson Soucy crushing Anaheim’s Troy Terry with a big open ice hit that drew the ire of Ducks’ captain Ryan Getzlaf who went after Soucy. Getzlaf was throwing some bombs right away as Soucy tried to do his best to stay out of range. This fight stopped pretty quick and I’d give the edge to Getzlaf because Soucy never threw too many punches in response. Yet Getzlaf was given a 2-minute instigator and a 10-minute game misconduct to go along with 5-minutes for fighting. This would give the Wild a power play but they were unable to cash in despite a few good looks in close. Minnesota would take back the lead late in the period, as they’d strike on the power play as Suter sent a wrist shot from the point that was redirected by Spurgeon and by Miller to give the Wild a 2-1 lead going into the 1st intermission.
The Ducks would strike early in the 2nd period as Isac Lundestrom would skate into the Minnesota zone and spin and send a pass towards the Wild crease that was tapped home by Max Comtois tying the game at 2-2. A few minutes later the Wild would get a big break as a long dump in by Nick Bjugstad bounced and then rolled in on net but Miller couldn’t cover it and the puck rebounded out to Nico Sturm who fired home the gift. 3-2 Wild.
After the ‘lucky’ goal, the Wild would go into coma. Just about every part of their game kind of disintegrated into a morass of mistakes. Poor and inaccurate passes plagued them leading to needless icing infractions and time spent scrambling around their own zone. The Ducks were starting to gain confidence as Minnesota was just sending area passes to try to get out of their own zone which made for easy turnovers. Ryan Getzlaf would poke a puck away from Brad Hunt and then he’d move in and fire a wrist shot that rang off the crossbar and out. The Wild continued to play with fire throughout the period with lazy, reactive play that had to have driven Head Coach Dean Evason crazy. Minnesota had to feel fortunate to still have a 3-2 lead going into the 2nd intermission.
The 3rd period wasn’t much better for the Wild. Poor passing and a conservative approach meant the Wild were content to simply defend their 1-goal lead. The longer the period went on the more the Ducks went on the attack as they were pinching with their defense. Josh Manson was especially active, and the stay-at-home defenseman was jumping into the play in the offensive zone and taking every chance he could to shoot the puck. Cam Talbot was busy and under siege as he had to reach back to stop a Nick Deslaurier‘s chance that nearly trickled by him. Minnesota was again playing with fire as the Ducks continued to apply pressure which made for some anxious moments in the closing 2 minutes of the game. The Ducks appeared to have tied the game but Max Comtois’ point blank chance went off the right post and stayed out. A few moments after that, Talbot had to make a great save on a wicked slap shot from the high slot by Jakob Silfverberg. Lastly, with just 1.1 seconds on the clock, the Ducks won the draw and Trevor Zegras stepped into a slapper that was denied by leg pad save by Talbot to allow the Wild to escape with a 3-2 victory. Talbot had 28 saves in the win.
It was kind of telling that the Wild were playing its 3rd and 4th lines down the stretch as its top 6 was giving away the puck far too often. They will have to be much better if they want to earn a win tomorrow against the Blues.
What did you think of the Wild’s series against Anaheim? Tell us on Twitter @CreaseAndAssist!
All 5 Minnesota Division 1 Men’s Programs Qualify for NCAA Tournament
Break out your brackets folks, no I’m not talking about basketball as I am talking about the 2021 NCAA Men’s Hockey Tournament. A lot was made when the Golden Gophers women’s team failed to qualify for the first time since 2006-07. Not that it really makes them feel any better, but for the first time in history did all 5 Minnesota Division 1 programs qualify for the NCAA Tournament.
The University of Minnesota Golden Gophers (23-6-0) made the tournament as the #1 seed in the West Region based in Loveland (CO) Region where they will face #4 seeded Nebraska-Omaha (14-10-1). Also making that part of the bracket is WCHA regular season champion is the #2 seeded Minnesota State (20-4-1) faces #3 seeded Quinnipiac (17-7-4).
Defending national champion (since there was no NCAA champion last year due the pandemic) University of Minnesota-Duluth (14-10-2) is the #3 seed facing #2 Michigan (15-10-1) in the Fargo (ND) Region. Meanwhile #2 seeded St. Cloud State (17-10-0) plays against #3 seeded Boston University (10-4-1) in the Albany (NY) Region. Lastly, #4 seeded Bemidji State (15-9-3) faces #1 seeded Wisconsin (20-9-1) in the Bridgeport (CT) Region.
No doubt Minnesota college hockey fans will be happy the Wild have a rare weekend off freeing up their TV to watch these regional games without feeling torn whether to watch that or the Wild game. The news will certainly make the provincial fans happy, but for others unless one of them comes home with a national title the unique feat won’t really matter that much.
Iowa 5, Rockford 3
The Wild came into Sunday’s game having lost their last 5 games. Needless to say they were feeling desperate for something positive. After a back-&-forth start where Bryce Misley (making his AHL debut) had a nice opportunity early on but couldn’t get it by Matt Tompkins, the Wild would break the stalemate. On the power play Gerald Mayhew pounced on a rebound created by a Gabriel Dumont shot and he’d fire it home to give Iowa a 1-0 advantage. Late in that period, Misley was set up for a breakaway on a nice little saucer pass by Matt Bartkowski and the former Vermont Catamount would move in and get Tompkins to flop but his shot would go to the side of the goal instead of the yawning cage. Iowa 1-0 after 1.
In the 2nd period, things would get a bit feisty as Iowa’s Josh Maser dropped the gloves with Rockford’s Riley McKay. It was a pretty nice fight with Maser throwing some big haymakers with a few of them landing to great effect on McKay. Eventually after a few more haymakers landed by Maser, he’d wrestle McKay to the ice for a clear win for the Ice Hogs would strike early as Cody Franson let go of a long-range shot from the red line that somehow managed to beat a stunned Hunter Jones over the shoulder to tie the game. Rockford would then take the lead about 10 minutes later as Mackenzie Entwistle took a shot from the slot that beat Jones glove-side. 2-1 Ice Hogs. Iowa would answer back 2 minutes later as Ryan O’Rourke would win a puck battle deep in the Rockford zone that was swept up by Mayhew who went behind the net to beat Tompkins with a wrap around chance. 2-2 game going into the 3rd period.
Rockford would take back the lead early in the 3rd when Garrett Mitchell moved into the slot and ripped a wrist shot by Jones to make it 3-2 Ice Hogs. Iowa would again answer back as Tyler Sheehy tapped home a puck while falling after a nice set up by Dumont to tie the game at 3-3 just 2 minutes after Mitchell’s goal. It was Sheehy’s 1st AHL goal. The Wild would then get the go-ahead goal a few minutes later as Sheehy set up Dumont for a one-timer that he blasted by Tompkins to give Iowa a 4-3 advantage. The Ice Hogs tried to answer back but Iowa was able to keep Rockford to the perimeter and eventually Mason Shaw was able to bury an empty net goal to seal a 5-3 victory. Jones had 33 saves in the win. Dumont and Mayhew both had 3-points Sunday night.
Wild Prospect Report:
D – Daemon Hunt (Moose Jaw, WHL) ~ The young defenseman earned 1st star honors on Saturday night by scoring two goals and chipping in two helpers on 5 shots in the Warriors 5-1 win over Swift Current. Hunt has 4 goals, 7 points, 2 PIM’s and is a -3 in 5 games.
G – Filip Lindberg (UMass, H-East) ~ The Finnish goaltender continues to shine for the Minutemen as he stopped all 16 shots he faced as UMass won the Hockey East Tournament with a 1-0 win over UMass-Lowell. Lindberg has a 7-1-4 record, 1.50 goals against average and a .940 save percentage with 3 shutouts.
LW – Adam Beckman (Spokane, WHL) ~ The WHL’s top scorer from 2020 found the back of the net again on 11 shots in Spokane’s 4-3 loss to arch-rival Portland. Beckman has 2 goals, 4 points and is a -3 in 3 games.
Girls High School Hockey Report: The Girls State Tournament starts this week at Xcel Energy Center. Here are the seedings and quarterfinal matchups.
Class A Bracket
Rochester Lourdes vs. #2 Warroad @ 11AM 3/26
Luverne vs. #3 Proctor / Hermantown @ 1PM 3/26
River Lakes vs. #1 Gentry Academy @ 6PM 3/26
#4 Chisago Lakes vs. #5 Mound / Westonka @ 8PM 3/26
Class AA Bracket
Centennial vs. #2 Edina @ 11AM 3/27
Alexandria vs. #3 Minnetonka @ 1PM 3/27
Farmington vs. #1 Andover @ 6PM 3/27
#4 Eastview vs. #5 Stillwater @ 8PM 3/27