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 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 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.”



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