It was a tough week for the Minnesota Wild video gaming community, as Mikko Koivu was ousted for the EA Sports NHL 2012 Cover Campaign. My guess is that he’s not getting too worked up about it, because he is gearing up to defend Finland’s IIHF World Championship gold medal, which begins on May 4. Koivu will be joined on Team Finland by Wild wunderkind prospect, Mikael Granlund. You can catch their Mother’s Day matchup with Team USA on May 13 at 8:35 a.m. CST. There is no better gift to mom than breakfast in bed, and while she’s finishing up her waffles, you can watch the game. Everybody wins. Every game in the tournament Team USA plays will be broadcast on NBC Sports Network.
If you didn’t get a chance to vote Koivu to the EA Sports NHL 2012 cover, you can make it up to him by voting for one of his nominations in the Wild.com Top Play of the Year Tournament. You have until 7 p.m. Sunday to cast your vote. On Monday, the winners of Round 1 will advance and the voting will reset.
On Monday, Wild.com ran a story about Cal Clutterbuck’s involvement in the You Can Play Project. The You Can Play Project is “dedicated to ensuring equality, respect and safety for all athletes, without regard to sexual orientation.” Find out more about You Can Play at the organization’s website, here.
In prospect news, the Houston Aeros were topped by the Oklahoma City Barons in the first round of the Calder Cup Playoffs. Even though it was a disappointing end to the season, even a playoff loss is invaluable experience for the Wild hopefuls. Aeros captain Jon DiSalvatore was a guest on this week’s PONDcast and recapped the season. Wild draft pick, Tyler Graovac, also joined the PONDcast, as his Ontario Hockey League team is in the playoffs.
Last night, Wild prospect Charlie Coyle scored twice, including the overtime game-winner to lift the Saint John Sea Dogs over the Chicoutimi Sagueneens, 3-2. Saint John jumped out to a 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven semifinal. Wild draftee Zack Phillips added two assists. Check out the Sea Dogs’ website, here.
Another Wild draft pick, Mario Lucia has a chance to hoist the Doyle Cup (no relation) tonight. Lucia’s Penticton Vees can close out the Alberta Junior Hockey League champions, the Brooks Bandits. Visit the Vees’ website for details, here.
In State of Hockey news, next season, the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers will face the Wisconsin Badgers in a WCHA game on Sunday, Feb. 17 at Soldier Field in Chicago. The neutral game site is home to the NFL’s Chicago Bears. This rivalry will undoubtedly be ramped up with the hoopla surrounding an outdoor game. So only one question remains: who would win in an outdoor game, the Gophers and Badgers combined or Ditka?
On Sunday, the US U-18 National Team won their fourth-straight IIHF World Men’s Under-18 Championship. Congratulations to the US Team and especially State of Hockey natives: Collin Olson, Apple Valley, and Brady Skjei and Kyle Osterberg of Lakeville.