Saturday Now Full-Ice Scrimmage At Development Camp

The Saturday session at Wild Development Camp will now be a full-ice scrimmage, replacing the three-on-three game. The scrimmage will run from 3 to 4:30 p.m., with Gate One of Xcel Energy Center opening 30 minutes before the action and is free and open to the public.

Today’s session will remain the three-on-three tourney with players taking the ice at 2:45 p.m.

Development Camp Tourney Draws A Crowd

On a beautiful afternoon in July, pucks and ice were on the minds of about 650 Wild fans in the State of Hockey. That’s because the club opened the doors to Xcel Energy Center for the team’s Development Camp 3-on-3 tournament.

The Wild’s showcase for its top prospects changed a little this summer, opting for a 3-on-3 winner take all tourney rather than a scrimmage. Going into today’s action one might’ve thought that the pace on the ice would be a little tame without a full ice surface, but you’d be mistaken. Playing one zone, from the blue line in, the speed was quick and there were plenty of goals, and hits.

Although this is not an “evaluation,” as it is set up as learning experience for these NHL hopefuls, the competitive edge took over. The prospects are looking for every opportunity to impress the club’s brass, who were in attendance steadily watching the action, regardless of when and where they get that chance.

The games were much more physical than expected and with the tight areas, you could see high-skill plays develop. Players had to make quick decisions or get burned like someone who fell asleep at the beach.

Maybe it was the silver chalice that is yet to have the winner’s names etched into the side or the bragging rights of taking home the tourney, but whatever it is, the pace was brisk and worth the price of admission (it was free and open to the public).

If you missed the action, don’t be too bummed, as fans will have tomorrow and Saturday to catch more of the tournament. The Lighthouse will be there with a little more analysis as we catch more of the action.

The Wild’s Kevin Falness caught up with Daniel Gunnarsson, Adam Gilmour, Louie Nanne and Wild Hockey Ops Advisor Andrew Brunette to talk more about the day. You can listen to that PONDcast here.

For a look at what the 3-on-3 tournament was like here is our own WildTV video.

Iowa Lands In AHL Midwest Division

The Iowa Wild, Minnesota’s American Hockey League affiliate, will play in the AHL’s Midwest Division. The club’s new division will include (NHL affiliate in parenthesis): Chicago Wolves (St. Louis), Grand Rapids Griffins (Detroit), Milwaukee Admirals (Nashville) and Rockford IceHogs (Chicago). Visit the Iowa Wild’s website for the AHL’s complete realignment.

The format for the 2014 Calder Cup Playoffs will and remain
the same as 2013: Eight teams in each conference will qualify for the postseason, with the three division winners earning the top three seeds and the next five best teams in order of regular-season points seeded fourth through eighth. The conference quarterfinals will be best-of-five series; the conference semifinals, conference finals and Calder Cup Finals will be best-of-seven series. Teams will be re-ordered after the first round so that the highest-remaining seed plays the lowest-remaining seed.

The playing schedule for the Iowa Wild 2013-14 regular season, which begins Oct. 4, will be announced later this summer.

Check out potential Iowa and future Minnesota prospects at today’s Wild Development Camp 3-on-3 tournament at Xcel Energy Center. Gate One opens at 2 p.m., with the games underway at 2:30 p.m. The tournament is free and open to the public.

Wild Development Camp 3-on-3 Tourney Time Change

Wild fans, please be advised: There has been a schedule change for today’s Wild Development Camp three-on-three tournament. The tourney will start today at 2:30 and run until 5:15. Gate One of Xcel Energy Center will open 30 minutes prior to the action.

Matt Cooke Introduced; Development Camp Day 3

Matt Cooke met the media here at Xcel Energy Center this afternoon. WildTV video will be posted shortly.

Cooke, who signed a three-year deal last Friday with the Wild said there were “five or six” teams that approached him as a free agent.

He said Minnesota was the best fit for him because of his previous relationship with Wild General Manager Chuck Fletcher and Head Coach Mike Yeo, both of whom previously were with the Pittsburgh Penguins organization.

“I’m a guy that needs to win,” Cooke said. “I wanted to be in a situation primed to win and I believe the Wild are right on the cusp.”

The 34-year-old will wear No. 24 previously worn by the late Derek Boogaard. He reached out to Boogaard’s family via email to ask for permission to wear the number.

“The response I got [from the Boogaard’s] was overwhelming and appreciative,” Cooke said.

In terms of what he envisions his role to be with the Wild, Cooke said this, “I want to stabilize the third line, and play in a shutdown role.”

Cooke believes he will be a calming influence in the locker room, contribute on the penalty kill, and chip in offensively as well.

A player who has been suspended multiple times by the NHL for hits earlier in his career, Cooke has played in every game the past two seasons, while only committing 80 PIM.

Two years ago Cooke said he did 30-40 hours of breaking down video of his technique to try and change his physical approach and hitting style.

“I can play the rest of my career without a suspension, but there will still be naysayers,” said Cooke.

Today is Day 3 of the Wild Development Camp. We will have more updates after the afternoon skating sessions are completed. Until then listen to our PONDcast with Erik Haula and Tyler Graovac.

The defenseman skating session just ended. A lot of emphasis today was placed on passing. Players worked on passing as a tandem on the blue line and making the simple passes.

A couple of drills involved gathering the puck along the boards and firing a quick shot from the blue line. At the end of the session the nets were moved to the same zone along the boards to create a 4-on-4 tournament.

The forwards were on the second session of ice time this afternoon. They started out with some skating drills to warmup and then went into shooting.

All the drills have been working with the puck around the net. At first the forwards would receive the puck behind the net and have to go around to score.

Next they put a wood block in front of the net and fired shots off it. The objective was to seize the rebound off the block and shoot a wrist shot.

The next two drills tested their hand-eye coordination. The first exercise began with a player launching saucer passes to their partner in front of the net. The player would have to knock the puck out of the air and control it then fire a shot on goal.

After that players would skate figure eights around cones outside the net and try to tip in rebounds off wrist shots.

The forwards ended up practicing on handling a puck along the boards while a defender tried to play physical and steal the puck. The session ended with a 4-on-4 tournament.

A WildTV video from earlier today containing some interviews with the Minnesota skaters in camp can be viewed here.

Navigating Nutrition At Wild Development Camp

“We thought eating a McChicken at McDonalds was healthy because it was white meat,” Minnesota Wild Hockey Operations Advisor Andrew Brunette laughed. “Things have changed a lot since my day.”

One of the major transformations that professional hockey has seen in the last decade is off-ice preparation, especially in regards to diet and nutrition. To help the players, who hope to one day wear the Iron Range Red and Forrest Green, transition from prospect to pro each summer is Wild Development Camp.

The annual camp started yesterday with the focus of helping advance the organization’s prospects in their ultimate goal of one day playing for the big club. Today, along with on-ice skill development with Brunette and Wild Director of Player Development Brad Bombardir, the prospects learned the how to balance their diets.

Nutrition Specialist Carrie Peterson gave the youngsters a presentation on the importance of eating healthy. The days of professional athletes surviving on steak and a couple of cold suds are long gone. Minnesota first-round pick Zack Phillips, who played his first year of professional hockey last season with the club’s American Hockey League affiliate, talked about learning how to deal with fending for himself when it came to preparing meals. That video will be on WildTV later today.

One of the biggest adjustments for these young athletes, much like a student going off to college, is learning how to cook and plan meals for themselves. Many of the players come from junior hockey, where they can rely on billet families to provide three-square meals a day. Well, turning pro means that these players will either have to learn how to cook, have a girlfriend to help prepare meals or eat out every night. But that’s what this week’s camp is all about: assist the club’s top prospects in their journey to the NHL, whether it is advancing their on-ice skills or off-ice preparation.

With the new Collective Bargaining Agreement and the era of a lower salary cap, there is a premium on good young talent, and the best way to get prospects to turn into NHL players is by developing them in house. That’s what this week is all about and why it’s so important that former players like Brunette and Bombardir are around to share their experiences and advance the careers of the Wild’s top prospects.

“We’re going to look at these players and give them tips on what they need to improve on,” Brunette said. “Whether it’s stickhandling, hands, skating, strength, eating habits or handling media…if we can help them just a little bit we’ve done our job this week.”

Wild Development Camp 3-on-3 Tourney Open To Public

With the Free Agent Frenzy last week, you might’ve missed the news about Wild Development Camp. Fans will have three opportunities to watch the club’s top prospects preform this week at Xcel Energy Center.

This year, the camp will host a three-on-three tournament that will be open to the public at Xcel Energy Center. Gate One will open 30 minutes before each session:

3:30 – 4:45 p.m. Thursday, July 11

2:45 – 4 p.m. Friday, July 12

2:45 – 4 p.m. Saturday, July 13

Camp opens tomorrow and will focus on development of the Wild’s top young talent in both on-ice and off-ice settings. A total of 36 players are expected to attend the camp, including 20 selected by Minnesota in the NHL Entry Draft. Players scheduled to attend include: Brett Bulmer, Raphael Bussieres, Mathew Dumba, Tyler Graovac, Johan Gustafsson, Erik Haula and Zack Phillips, along with all seven players selected in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft. Click here to see the teams.

Director of Player Development Brad Bombardir and Hockey Operations Advisor Andrew Brunette will lead the on-ice sessions along with Barry Karn and Andy Ness. The Wild’s coaching staff will also meet with the players and work with them off the ice. In addition, players will participate in daily strength and conditioning education sessions and receive nutritional instruction.