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Packed house witnesses 3-on-3 tournament to wrap development camp

Sturm, Lodnia among those on team 'Wild' to hoist Cup Friday night at TRIA Rink

by Dan Myers @mnwildscribe /

ST. PAUL -- Normally an event held in front of a couple of cameras and select members of the front office, the 3-on-3 tournament portion of the Wild's Development Camp was brought under the bright lights and a packed TRIA Rink at Treasure Island Center on Friday night.

With four teams of six players representing four of the iconic names in Minnesota hockey, it was the "Wild" team of Nico Sturm, Ivan Lodnia, Alexander Khovanov, Louis Roehl, Fedor Dordeev and Matvey Guskov that rolled through the tournament undefeated to win the prestigious 3-on-3 Cup.

Traditionally, the Wild's week-long camp has come to a conclusion with a full 5-on-5 scrimmage, but the 3-on-3 tournament being brought center stage was one of several major changes to Minnesota's Development Camp.

Video: Development Camp Wraps Up

Among the many changes were the length of the camp, down to three or four days from seven or eight, as well as the location. For the first time, it was held at TRIA Rink, the Wild's year-old practice facility, instead of Xcel Energy Center.

The timing of the camp was also earlier. In years past, it's been a mid-July event. This year, there were a handful of players on the ice Friday night that hadn't even been members of the organization for a week after being selected in the NHL Draft last weekend.

"I think we just tried to pick the most important things that we feel our players need when they do come here," said the Wild's Director of Player Development Brad Bombardir. "We removed some of the ice sessions but we felt working on their skating was vitally important. They can leave with a plan to work on that. Some of the little skill work and detail work, they can work on that the rest of summer."

For the players, it was an opportunity to get focused during a time in the calendar when they're a little closer to game shape. Having the camp in the week before the Fourth of July holiday -- and for some, closer to the NHL's Draft Combine and the end of the season -- typically has guys in something a little closer to game shape. 

With the camp being a few days shorter, efficiency was key, and Lodnia, who wrapped up his third development camp with the Wild, noticed it immediately.

"They've all be a lot of fun, but it's nice having it a little bit shorter and I think Bomber did a really nice job of setting it up this year," Lodnia said. "And I think being at the practice facility has really helped. Overall, I think this whole camp has been more effective."

Tweet from @mnwild: Get you a hype man like Brad Bombardir is to #mnwild prospects.

TRIA Rink will be the eventual home of many of the players who participated this week, and offered some the opportunity a first-hand glimpse of what that place could be like.

While Xcel Energy Center is a world-class arena, having everything the players need available just a few steps away was a nice change of pace. 

It also serves as motivation for players to continue to put in the work. 

"If you can't find motivation walking into this building and how they're treated here all week, it'd be pretty hard for you to become a National Hockey League player," Bombardir said. "When the kids walk into this place, they have to be motivated to want to be here."

On Friday, the rink was full of fans escaping the brutal heat and humidity in the Twin Cities.

Lodnia showed well for himself and capped a strong week as he looks to begin his professional career with Iowa in the fall.

Sturm also had a great week, capped by a 3-on-3 championship and being named the camp's "Hardest Worker." 

It was a crucial week for Sturm, a restricted free agent this summer who was qualified by the Wild on Tuesday. After making his NHL debut late in the regular season, Sturm is expected to compete for a job in Minnesota come this fall at training camp.

He certainly helped his cause this week, as was his goal all along. 

Tweet from @mnwild: This year's Hardest Worker of #mnwild Dev. Camp goes to...@nicosturm7!

"For me, this week, I wanted to incorporate it into my summer of getting better," Sturm said. "I took 10 days off after the Dallas game [to end the regular season] and I've been working out ever since without a break. For me, this was about getting better ... and at the same time, I wanted to stand out with professionalism off the ice as well."

Mission accomplished, according to Bombardir, who lauded Sturm's leadership in the dressing room over the course of the week.

"You can absolutely see why he was a captain [at Clarkson University] and you can see why he'd be a captain everywhere he goes," Bombardir said. "He's put together. He's impressive. His professionalism, the way he attacks every day ... you can tell he already has a pro mentality. 

"I haven't seen a guy like that in a long time that has an NHL-type mentality when he shows up here. He's one of the first guys here every morning, he gets his work done and he's methodical about it."

Video: Development Camp After Hours

Damien Giroux, a part of the "Moose" team that lost in the 3-on-3 championship game, was named the camp's Most Improved Player. 

Giroux is coming off an outstanding season with the OHL's Saginaw Spirit, scoring 30 goals and 51 points in 67 games. He's undersized at 5-foot-10 and 178 pounds, but that's two consecutive development camps where Giroux has left a strong impression with Wild brass.

Giroux is likely headed back to the OHL this season but could be in the mix in Iowa in short order.

Tweet from @mnwild: And the Most Improved Prospect is @damiengiroux20! #mnwild

"I think the team did a tremendous job of having a lot of teaching practices," Giroux said. "For me, approaching it, I was just trying to soak up as much as possible. I'm looking forward to getting to work."

The five goaltenders in the camp rotated between the "Wild," "Moose," "North Stars," and "Fighting Saints," with Dereck Baribeau officially netting the win for the "Wild." It's the third-straight year Baribeau will have his name etched on the 3-on-3 Cup. 

More from Wild Development Camp:

Video: Get to Know Marshall Warren

Video: Get to Know Adam Beckman

Video: Get to Know Matvey Guskov

Video: Get to Know Hunter Jones

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