One last look back at St. Patrick’s Day, and then we move forward. When I try to think of word for St. Patty’s Day 2011, “sucks” comes to mind quite frequently. The Wild lost, every other Western Conference team won and the UMD Bulldogs lost to Bemidji State in the WCHA Final Five. Plus, my Final Five brackets is completely blown to rubble.
Thankfully, it’s over, and today is shaping up to be a much better day. It starts with University of Nebraska Omaha head coach Dean Blais being named as the head coach of the U.S. National Junior team, which will take part in the World Junior Championships starting in December in Calgary and Edmonton. Of course Blais led the United States to a gold medal in the 2010 World Junior Championships, and the guy pretty much knows how to win.
While we’re on the subject of amateur hockey players and Minnesota natives (Blais is a native of International Falls), there are two Minnesotans that were named as finalists for the 2011 Hobey Baker Award. Duluth’s Jack Connolly (UMD) of Minnesota-Duluth and Edina’s Chase Polacek (RPI) are among the final 10. The other finalists are Cam Atkinson (Boston College), Carter Camper (Miami-Ohio), Matt Frattin (UND), Andy Miele (Miami-Ohio), Gustav Nyquist (Maine), Justin Schultz (Wisconsin), Paul Thompson (New Hampshire) and Paul Zanette (Niagara).
Also, the Wild is one of four teams (Chicago, Columbus and Detroit are the others) that will be honored by the U.S. EPA for redistributing unsold arena food to those in need.
In cooperation with food provider Levy, the Wild have rerouted 6,220 pounds of food. Levy and Joseph’s Store House coordinate the pick-up and distribution from Xcel Energy Center after Wild home games. On March 26, the EPA will celebrate the Wild’s environmental achievements, presenting the Club withe a plaque on the “Let’s Play Hockey” FSN stage during intermission.