Author Archives: lighthouse10

Aeros Open Up Training Camp

The Xcel Energy Center finally had some pucks smacking against the boards and some steel carving the ice. And while the skaters on the ice weren’t Minnesota Wild players, they were wearing the red and green of the Houston Aeros. The Wild’s American Hockey League affiliate officially kicked off the 2012-2013 season with the first day of camp.

The group of 37 players was split into two teams, with one team skating in the morning followed by a workout. The second group worked out first, and then went through a practice led by Houston head coach, John Torchetti.

All of the players will be on display to the public tomorrow and Sunday for the open scrimmages. Saturday’s action starts at 11:00 a.m. and Sunday will kick of at 10:00 a.m. Doors open half an hour before puck drop both days.

Fans are encouraged to bring their used hockey equipment for the Let’s Play Hockey Used Hockey Equipment Drive that culminates next weekend. There will be a drop off location atop the Xcel Energy Center Box Office and anyone that donates will receive a raffle ticket for prizes that include autographed pucks, or a signed Marco Scandella jersey.

Certainly there will be a lot of eyes on the what looks to be the possible top line in Houston this year: Mikael Granlund centering Jason Zucker and Sir Charles Coyle. It certainly looks to be a good blend of playmaking, size, speed and finishing.

That trio has never played together in game action before, but they are plenty familiar with each other. Zucker skated on a line with Granlund during July’s Development Camp, and he was on a line with Coyle as a member of Team USA at the World Juniors.

“They’re really not bad guys to play with,” joked Zucker. “There’s good chemistry there, but it’s young chemistry and it’s something we’ll have to develop these next few days and next few weeks to make ourselves a better line.”

Expect that trio to be going up against Jonas Brodin and Marco Scandella, who look to be the top defensive pairing on the opposite squad tomorrow.

It should be a fun couple of days at Xcel Energy Center, and the price is right. So stop down for a chance to see the Wild’s top prospects in action.

Harding A Gametime Decision

First off, congratulations to St. Thomas Academy and Benilde St. Margaret’s on their respective state championships. Grant Besse put on one of the most memorable state championship performances we’ve ever seen last night, and he did it for a team that overcame some of the toughest adversity there is.

Not many scenes can beat the sight of Jack Jablonski cheering on each of Besse’s five goals last night. Here’s hoping we can see Jack doing that a Wild game in the near future.

One Wild player that was very happy about last night’s result was Dany Heatley, but not just because of the great story. He’s excited that Besse is committed to be a Wisconsin Badger. Of course, he hasn’t signed an official letter of intent so there’s plenty of time for him to change his mind and do the right thing by signing with Minnesota Duluth.

As for tonight’s game, the Minnesota Wild kicks off a five-game homestand with the Calgary Flames. Matt Hackett will be the starter in goal, but we’re still not positive on the backup situation. Josh Harding took some shots today and will be a gametime decision. If he can’t go, the Wild has a Plan B, but that is unknown at this point.

Would the Wild sign a college free agent whose season is over? Or is there a player in the minors that they could sign to an Amateur Tryout Contract. We may never know.

Clayton Stoner is also a gametime decision, but at least the Wild won’t be limited to five healthy defensemen tonight. Jared Spurgeon is ready to return from the illness that kept him out of Thursday’s win. That gives the Wild six D, and one would come out if Stoner plays.

Mikko Koivu did practice with the team yesterday but did not take any contact.

Cuma Won’t Make It To Phoenix

Tyler Cuma will not be in the lineup to make his NHL debut tonight. The defenseman was not able to get to his flight from Houston to Phoenix on time. Cuma was with the Aeros in Abbottsford, British Columbia for a game last night. He flew to Houston this morning, but was not able to get on a connecting flight to Phoenix in time.

Cuma acknowledged in a tweet that he wouldn’t make it to Phoenix.

Cuma was recalled due to Jared Spurgeon becoming ill. The Wild must now decide if Clayton Stoner is ready to return from a lower body injury.

Cuma Gets The Call

We just keep getting to know all kinds of hockey players in Minnesota this year. The newest official member of the Wild family will be defenseman Tyler Cuma…as long as he gets to Phoenix on time.

Jared Spurgeon got sick last night, requiring a callup of Cuma, who played in Abbottsford, British Columbia last night. Cuma will have to fly to Houston, and then board a plane for Phoenix. The team is hopeful he can arrive prior to tonight’s game against the Coyotes.

If there are any problems with Cuma’s arrival, it’s likely that Clayton Stoner returns to the lineup, but obviously it’s hoped that Cuma can be here tonight. The first round pick in 2008 has seven assists in 57 games with the Aeros this year and is a +2.

Cal Clutterbuck still isn’t feeling well, so he’ll be out. Head Coach Mike Yeo will again juggle the lines, saying he wants to get back to more defined roles. Josh Harding will get the start tonight.

I said this yesterday, and I’ll say it again. It is so great to have the Minnesota State high school boys’ hockey tournament streamed live on prep45.com. I’m sitting in a hotel room in the desert, and yet I can check in on all of the championship round games. Congratulations to HIll-Murray on their upset of Maple Grove. Now, I’m able to watch Eagan and Moorhead battle it out. I have a suspicion that Matt Cullen may be doing the same thing in his hotel room right now.

It’s Tournament Time…But Not In Arizona

Happy Tournament Time everybody. The Lighthouse is beaming from Glendale, Arizona, where I thought I might head over to Jobing.com Arena tonight to catch the quarterfinals of the Arizona Boys’ State Hockey Tournament. Apparently it’s not going on this weekend. So, I’ll just have to settle for watching the Minnesota tournament courtesy of prep45.com. That’s tough to beat.

The Minnesota Wild, which boasts three former State Hockey Tournament participants – Matt Cullen (Moorhead), Tom Gilbert (Bloomington Jefferson) and Nate Prosser (Elk River) – wrapped up their practice today.

Cal Clutterbuck did not participate in practice and still isn’t feeling well. Head Coach Mike Yeo said Clutterbuck felt great last night after the game, but wasn’t feeling well again today. Yeo didn’t want to speculate on what the issue could be, obviously hoping it’s not a concussion.

Kurtis Foster did skate today, as did Clayton Stoner. Yeo made it sound as if Stoner is a possibility to play tomorrow night. So it doesn’t look like there will be a callup of a defenseman just yet.

Yeo talked at length about the team’s struggles last night, as well as how surprised he is at what happened since this team ruled the roost back in mid-December.

Here’s some of what he had to say:

On last night – “The thing that stinks about last night is we were going pretty good…we were going…well…okay. But even in looking at the game, we’re not as sharp as we need to be. We don’t have a very big margin for error right now. But there’s just too many little details in the game that we pride ourselves in and we work on in practice and we do these things over and over again in practice and we do them great. And then we get into a game…it says it’s just a matter of focus and preparation. It’s a difficult time for everybody to get focused on all those little things when you have all these other things that are in your head. But that’s what we have to do right now.”

On how much the roster has changed since mid-December – “Yeah, it is [a different team]. But having said that, there’s no excuse for how we played the game last night. We were okay, but after that third goal we completely unraveled. And that goes down to preparation and that shouldn’t happen. We’re allowing too many goals in the net, and I don’t care who we have right now. The one thing that we should have every game is battle level and attention to detail and discipline and a strong focus on the way we’re supposed to play the game. If we do that then we should really give ourselves a great chance to win. Last night, we completely fell off.

On if he could have envisioned the team falling back – “None of us were preparing for this, that’s for sure. I don’t know how you would prepare for that. But we didn’t see that coming, that’s for sure. But that was a long time ago and a lot of things have happened since then. It is what it is. It stinks. It stinks. This is what we have right now. This is what we are. Let’s make the most of it.”

On the current roster – “That’s one thing I’ll never do, is say we’re not good enough. I still see reasons why we’re losing games. I never expect perfection, but we’ll always push for it. We’ll always try to keep getting better. This time of year, it’s tough to win hockey games and it gets tougher in the playoffs. Why is that? It’s not because guys get faster or stronger. Definitely every night they’re ready and they’re focused and their battle level is real high. But as the year goes on, they start to eliminate their mistakes and they become almost flawless. And we are far from flawless in our game.”

On if this is a crisis for Yeo – “I don’t know if I’d call it a crisis. It’s been the biggest challenge, for sure. But the one thing I know about coaching is some of the toughest years as far as the things you have to deal with are the years you grow the most and you learn the most. When we were on that run, I pretty much got out of the way and let them go. Now, everyday is a new challenge. You learn things good and bad about yourself and the things that you need to do as a group as well. I know that it’s a challenge, but it’s a great challenge for me and for all of us.”

 

Hackett Gets Another Start

Matt Hackett will get his second consecutive start tonight when the Minnesota Wild closes out the season series and a home-and-home set with the Colorado Avalanche. The Wild is looking for its fifth straight win in Pepsi Center.

Head Coach Mike Yeo said he still wants to get Josh Harding back in action soon, and this is not necessarily an audition for next year for Hackett. He mentioned that Harding could still be a part of the Wild’s future, but he also said the staff is looking at how young perform in the season’s final month.

Yeo also said one of the Wild’s players wasn’t feeling well following the skate today, which means the lineup is in limbo. Erik Christensen will sit out if everybody can go. Kurtis Foster gets back in the lineup in place of injured Justin Falk.

Nick Palmieri appears ready to return from his upper body injury.

Also today, the Wild and Houston Aeros released its Clear Day roster, which includes those players that are eligible to compete in the remainder of the 2011-12 AHL regular season and in the 2012 Calder Cup Playoffs, unless emergency conditions arise as a result of recall, injury or suspension. Teams may also add signed junior players or players on amateur tryout contracts after their respective junior or college seasons are complete.

The Houston Aeros Clear Day roster is:

Matt Hackett (goaltender)
Darcy Kuemper (goaltender)
Cody Almond
Drew Bagnall
Joel Broda
Tyler Cuma
Jon DiSalvatore
Justin Fontaine
Kris Foucault
Kris Fredheim
Chay Genoway
Steven Kampfer
David McIntyre
Carson McMillan
Kyle Medvec
Jarod Palmer
Nick Palmieri
Jeff Penner
Nate Prosser
Chad Rau
Marco Scandella
Jeff Taffe

Kampfer And Rau Coming Up

The Minnesota Wild is expected to recall defenseman Steve Kampfer and forward Chad Rau today. The team was hit with injuries once again last night when both Cal Clutterbuck and Nick Palmieri suffered upper body injuries. The Wild will not skate on Saturday, so it’s unknown what the extent of the injuries are.

If Kampfer plays tomorrow night, he’ll become the 44th player to skate for the Wild this season. He is expected to wear number 38 for the Wild. The last player to sport 38 for the Wild was Robbie Earl.

Kampfer was acquired from Boston in the trade deadline deal that sent Greg Zanon to the Bruins. He played 10 games this season with Boston and posted two assists. He also played 12 games with Providence of the AHL and tallied a goal and four assists.

Rau has played seven games with the Wild this season and scored twice. He ranks sixth on the Houston scoring charts with eight goals and 16 assists in 48 games.