Clutterbuck Practices; WCHA Final Five Set

With so many injuries to the Wild this season, it’s nice to report when a player returns to the ice. Cal Clutterbuck was wearing a no-contact red jersey and participated in practice today. He has missed three games due to illness, but was flying around in typical Clutterbuck fashion. With the Wild hosting the Dallas Stars tomorrow at Xcel Energy Center, we’ll know more about his status at tomorrow’s pre-game skate.

Clutterbuck skated in a practice littered with skill drills designed to touch up situational areas of the team’s game. The Wild worked on transition passing, defensive zone chips, about 10 minutes of two-on-ones and was capped with the forwards and defensemen splitting zones to work on individual skills.

“We’re not going to just ride out the season, that’s for sure,” Yeo said. “Whatever we think our team needs, we’re going to bring it.”

Yeo spoke candidly to the media about moving forward the rest of the season and can be viewed on Wild TV, here.

Also wearing red was Mikko Koivu, who participated in his first practice on Saturday, after sustaining an upper-body injury. Today is Koivu’s birthday, and his teammates celebrated by giving him the gift of a shaving cream pie to the face. Nice way for your teammates to congratulate you on turning a year older, but I’d have preferred a cake.

Yeo said that Niklas Backstrom is coming along with rehabilitation from his groin strain and that “he’s a gamer” so he is working to get back quickly. Meanwhile, Matt Hackett continues to prove himself in net with both Backstrom and Josh Harding hurt, and the rookie goaltender spoke to Wild TV about his opportunity to contribute to the Wild this season, here.

Finally, the Thursday pairings for the WCHA Final Five at Xcel Energy Center are set. Denver topped Wisconsin 3-2 in overtime Sunday, to give the Pioneers a 2-1 series win. DU will face the Michigan Tech Huskies, who upset Colorado College in a two-game sweep. The Denver vs. Michigan Tech game is at 2:07 p.m. on Thursday.

The St. Cloud State Huskies and University of North Dakota completed series sweeps and will face off in the 7:07 game. SCSU topped the University of Nebraska Omaha, and UND beat Bemidji State for series wins. I’ll be sporting cardinal and black for that game, but as fellow State of Hockey residents, I hope you’ll be cheering on the Huskies, too.

The University of Minnesota and University of Minnesota Duluth will have Thursday off, as they are the two top WCHA seeds. The winner of Michigan Tech/Denver will play UMD at 2:07 p.m. on Friday. The winner of St. Cloud State/North Dakota will face Minnesota at 7:07 p.m. Friday.

Good luck to all the teams, unless of course they are facing St. Cloud State.

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