Tag Archives: Jason Zucker

Zucker Set To Debut; Backstrom and Falk Back

Minnesota hosts the Florida Panthers tonight and there is a wide range of news coming out of Wild camp today, so I’ll try to catch you up on everything.

Jason Zucker will make his debut in a Minnesota sweater and will wear number 16. He’s the 45th player and 14th rookie to suit up for the Wild this season. See the Wild TV pre-game video of Zucker, here.

Niklas Backstrom is set to make his first start in goal since suffering a groin injury on March 1 against the Montreal Canadiens. Backstrom backed up Josh Harding against the New York Rangers on Tuesday, but the cage will be all his tonight. Backstrom dressed as a backup for a few games, but suffered a different lower body and missed the Wild’s last road trip.

Justin Falk is expected to return to the blue line after missing nine games with a lower body injury. Falk has practiced with the team this week and is set to see his first game action since March 4.

Tonight also is the Wild’s tribute to the Minnesota North Stars “Back on Home Ice” celebration. More than 30 former North Stars are scheduled to be in attendance. A number of former North Stars were on hand at Tom Reid’s Hockey City Pub yesterday, as St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman proclaimed March 29-31 North Stars Alumni Weekend. Check out the Wild TV videos of the North Stars Alumni and the mayor’s proclamation.

Finally, this is probably the coolest thing in gaming (video gaming not gambling) since NHL 94 (the year you could one-time the puck and create your own players. Mike Doyle broke Wayne Gretzky’s single-season scoring records that year, but I digress). EA SPORTS is letting fans pick the EA SPORTS NHL 13 cover player. Mikko Koivu and Niklas Backstrom are going head-to-head in the first round. Awesome right? Well, you can vote one of them through until April 11, here. For the full story on the cover campaign visit Wild.com, here.

Staubitz Suspension Begins Tonight

The ruling was passed down from NHL discipline czar Brendan Shanahan yesterday that Wild winger Brad Staubitz will be suspended for the rest of the preseason, as well as the first three games of the regular season.

At least publicly, the Wild hasn’t cried foul about the ruling, and Staubitz said yesterday, “I want what’s fair.” Thus far in his new role, Shanahan has been strict, but consistent in his dealings with dangerous hits. He also suspended James Wisniewski for eight regular season games for his blow to the head of Cal Clutterbuck on Friday night.

In past years, there didn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason to the suspensions handed out, and there seemed to be preferential treatment given to certain players over others. Shanahan has been proactive, not only with being strict, but with his video descriptions of each incident. If teams and fans get the straight dope on why a suspension is what it is, that’s all we can really ask.

It remains to be seen if Steven Stamkos or Alex Ovechkin were to drill a player with a dangerous head shot, but so far, it’s hard to argue with Shanahan’s methods.

As for the Wild and their preseason home game tonight against the Blues, you’ll see most of the regulars out on the ice tonight. Matt Cullen, who was hit headfirst into the boards on Saturday by Pittsburgh’s Eric Tangradi, will sit out as a precaution. Casey Wellman will take his spot. Staubitz will be replaced on the fourth line by Brett Bulmer, who is still vying for a spot on the roster.

On defense, Jared Spurgeon is dealing with a bruised rib, and Mike Lundin continues to suffer from back spasms. Justin Falk and Marco Scandella will take their spots in the lineup. Nick Schultz will make his preseason debut tonight.

Niklas Backstrom gets the start in goal. Josh Harding likely starts on Thursday in Columbus and Backstrom would get the preseason finale on Friday against Edmonton.

Meanwhile, all the players the Wild put on waivers on Sunday have cleared, meaning they’ll report to Houston Aeros camp. That includes Warren Peters, Jed Ortmeyer, Jon DiSalvatore, Jeff Taffe, Jeff Penner and Dennis Endras.

And finally, Wild prospect and Denver University sophomore Jason Zucker was picked as the preseason WCHA player of the year in the 94X media poll, released today. Zucker’s team, Denver, was picked to finish first in the League, which you may know is also the home of the defending national champs in Duluth.

10 Semifinalists Announced For Minnesota Ms. Hockey Award

Couple other notes as I eagerly anticipate a Wild trouncing of Colorado tonight.

Wild prospect Jason Zucker will be in the building tonight to watch the team that picked him in the second round of last year’s NHL Draft. The WCHA’s leading goal scorer will be in action this weekend as Denver plays Colorado College in a home-and-home series. Professional golfer Craig “The Walrus” Stadler is also going to be at the game tonight.

Let’s Play Hockey magazine has released the names of the 10 semifinalists for the Minnesota Ms. Hockey award, as well as the 10 semifinalists for the Senior Goalie of the Year. Rachel Ramsey, the daughter of former Wild Assistant Coach Mike Ramsey is the only blueliner nominated for the Ms. Hockey award.

The Ms. Hockey finalists are (future college in parentheses):

F Rachel Bona of Coon Rapids (Minnesota)
F Hillary Crowe of Blake (Harvard)
F Taylor Kuehl of Mound Westonka (Ohio State)
F Allie LaCombe of Eden Prairie (Syracuse)
F Meghan Lorence of Irondale (Minnesota)
F Layla Marvin of Warroad (North Dakota)
F Abby Ness of Roseau (St. Cloud State)
D Rachel Ramsey of Minnetonka (Minnesota)
F Sami Reber of Edina (Harvard)
F Karley Sylvester of Warroad (Wisconsin)

The goaltenders are:

Shelby Amsley-Benzie of Warroad (North Dakota)
Crystal Amunrud of Coon Rapids (TBD)
Chloe Billadeau of Blake (Williams)
Julia Friend of Minnetonka (St. Cloud State)
Erika Hanson of Centennial (TBD)
Chelsea Laden of Lakeview South (Quinnipiac)
Haley Morningstar of Buffalo (St. Catharine’s)
Tiana Press of Benilde-St. Margaret’s (Harvard)
Shyler Sletta of New Prague (Minnesota)
Samantha Ubl of Anoka (TBD)

The winners will be announced on Sunday, February 27 at the Minnesota Ms. Hockey Awards banquet at 11:30 a.m. at the St. Paul RiverCentre.

Harding Skates; Wild Heads East

It was a very low-key morning down at Xcel Energy Center today, but the media assembled got some much needed excitement when Josh Harding walked past and announced he skated earlier today. It was in fact the first time Harding has gotten on skates since his knee surgery a few months ago, and even if he only skated for a bit in sweats, it’s still means he’s nearly a full month ahead of schedule to return from the torn ACL/MCL he suffered in his right knee during the preseason. Harding said he’s never counted himself out for this season and continues to work just to get back in the lineup.

Since he’s back on the ice, Harding now has a stall in the Wild locker room for the first time this regular season:

Harding was all smiles as he talked with the media and said the skate “felt good” but also added that “you’ve got to take it easy, you can’t over push it.” When asked if he’d be returning in a few weeks, he answered, “I’d love to say, ‘Yeah,’ but it obviously just depends on how everything goes and you’ve got to be careful with it…we’re just going to take it week by week.” Harding joked of good friend James Sheppard’s return from injury, saying, “I’m trying to beat him back.”

As for the Wild players not on injured reserve, six players joined Assistant Coaches Rick Wilson and Darby Hendrickson for a optional practice before the Wild flies to New Jersey early this afternoon. Perhaps most noticeably, Marco Scandella was on the ice after missing last night’s game because of an illness. He was joined by Clayton Stoner, Brad Staubitz, Patrick O’Sullivan, Cal Clutterbuck and Jared Spurgeon.

In some other news, Niklas Backstrom declared himself good to go with no lasting effects of the collision with Scandella in practice last week. Backstrom told the media that at this level you have to practice how you play and the collision was “just part of the game.” He added that Scandella’s “a great guy” and he holds no ill will about the collision.

As for the lineups for the Wild’s contests on the East Coast this week, it is still unknown who will start because Todd Richards was not available to talk with the media this morning. But lucky for you, Wild.com brainiac Glen Andresen is traveling with the team on this road trip, so he’ll have all the lineup details for you this week, as well as some cool other features for wild.com.

Until Glen posts his first report from New Joisey, here’s today’s PONDcast from Kevin Falness to get you through the day.

Finally, don’t forget to watch the USA-Canada showdown in the semifinals of the World Junior Championship from Buffalo, N.Y., tonight on NHL Network at 6:30 p.m. CT. Good news for the Yanks: Wild prospect Jason Zucker and Jeremy Morin are both expected back in the U.S. lineup. It might not be a gold-medal matchup, but any game between the Canadians and Americans should be incredibly entertaining, especially during World Juniors. I couldn’t get Brad Bombardir to make an apparel bet again since he ended up having to wear my USA Hockey scarf the day after the U.S. gold last year, and Wild Equipment Manager Tony DaCosta wavered before refusing to commit, too. Looks like we’ve got some Canadians in St. Paul who aren’t too confident in the outcome! GO USA!

Zucker On Preliminary U.S. Junior Roster

Considering he was on the last two U.S. National Junior Team rosters, it’s not a surprise that Wild prospect Jason Zucker was named to the preliminary roster for the 2010 U.S. National Junior Team. Zucker, who helped the U.S. to a gold medal at last year’s tournament, will be joined on the roster by five Minnesotans – Justin Faulk (South St. Paul/UMD), Derek Forbort (Duluth/UND), Nick Leddy (Eden Prairie/Rockford of the AHL), Nick Bjugstad (Blaine/Minnesota) and Brock Nelson (Warroad/UND). Click here for the full roster.

The 29 players on the roster will participate in a pre-tournament camp starting next Friday in New York. The final roster will be announced prior to the last exhibition game against Norway on December 23. The tournament kicks off on December 26 in Buffalo, New York, when the U.S. will take on Mikael Granlund and Finland. They will also face Slovakia, Germany and Switzerland in pool play.

Zucker recorded a hat trick last Friday in Duluth, and now leads all WCHA freshmen in goals with 12. He ranks third overall in the League in goal scoring behind Matt Frattin and his Denver teammate, Drew Shore. Shore is also on the preliminary roster for Team USA.