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Best Wild Week Ever

by Staff Writer / Minnesota Wild

Holiday spirit was at its peak last week as we closed in on Christmas Eve, Christmas and Hanukkah. That was good enough to make December 19 through December 25 the Best Wild Week Ever.

But when you throw in Wild victories in two out of three games, a Wild Hockey Unplugged appearance and four players being selected to represent their respective countries, you have all the ingredients necessary for the Best Wild Week Ever.

Now let’s rip off the wrapping paper and find out why last week was, without question, the Best Wild Week Ever.

Monday, December 19, 2005

 Brian Rolston acknowledged his Minnesota-based fans during the on-ice ceremony preceding a 2-1 Wild win over Dallas.
Mondays have typically not been good to the Minnesota Wild this season. Then again, since when have Monday’s been good to anybody that works, plays or attends school? But this Monday was different. December 19 was the Monday to end all Mondays. Perhaps it was a beginning of a new trend where all the good stuff happens on Mondays? Perhaps not. But it was a good start.

Prior to the Wild taking on the Dallas Stars at the Xcel Energy Center in a nationally televised game on OLN, a pre-game ceremony took place to announce the roster for the United States Olympic Team. Three Minnesota natives – Jason Blake, Jordan Leopold and Mark Parrish – were named to the team along with our favorite Michigan native, Brian Rolston.

The Wild followed up the ceremony by taking on two other U.S. Olympians -- Mike Modano and Bill Guerin – and the rest of the Dallas Stars.

Even though this was supposed to be a night for Americans, Canadian netminder Marty Turco put on a clinic for two periods, thwarting chance after chance by the Wild frontliners.

But perseverance paid off, and in the third, Todd White tied the game up at 1-1, setting the stage for the star of the night, Brian Rolston, to spring Marian Gaborik for a rink rocking breakaway goal that sealed the deal.

Monday, schmonday. THAT is how you go about starting off the Best Wild Week Ever.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Joe DiMaggio’s in Friendly Fridley was the place to be on Tuesday night for another installment of Wild Hockey Unplugged featuring Wild radio producer Kevin Falness.

Derek “The Boogeyman” Boogaard and Mikko Koivu were slated to join Falness for the event. But Boogaard was stricken with a severe case of the flu, while Koivu dealt with some scheduling conflicts due to his family visiting from Finland.

Not to worry. All-around good guys Marc Chouinard and Kurtis “Bananaz” Foster stepped up to the plate to make their second appearances of the year.

This wasn’t your typical Unplugged night. There was the sighting of an “I’m Bananaz for Foster” t-shirt, and one fan asked Foster to demonstrate his unique celebrations after goals. Another young lady was able to coerce Foster and Chouinard into singing Happy Birthday to her sister, Katie.

Though her face turned the color of a stop sign, Katie had a head start on having the Best Wild Week Ever.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

 This picture of the State Capitol is believed to have been taken at 1:30 PM on Wednesday afternoon.
Wednesday was the shortest day of the year, meaning the sun actually set at 11:45 in the morning. The 21st also signals the first day of winter, although I swear the winter started about one month ago, when a Wild game could have been played on my driveway.

The Wild players jettisoned themselves through the dark sky to the great state of Colorado, where they held their last regular practice prior to two games and two more days off.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Thursday got off to a tremendous start when we learned that three more Wild players would join Brian Rolston in Italy come February. Marian Gaborik (Slovakia), Mikko Koivu (Finland) and Filip Kuba (Czech Republic) were each selected to represent their respective countries in Turin for the 2006 Winter Olympics. In 2002, the Wild had zero players in the Games in Salt Lake City. This year, it will have four players competing for gold.

Later that night, the Wild got its first look at the Colorado Avalanche, and two old friends-turned-opponents, Andrew Brunette and Antti Laaksonen. Bruno and Laakso did what they could to punish their old mates, scoring the first two goals of the game against their former team. But it was an off-ice official gaffe that really did the Wild in.

 Look appetizing? Well, it would be a lot easier to swallow than the Wild’s heartbreaking loss on Thursday.

The Avalanche built its lead to 3-1 in the first period on a goal by Brett McLean, which was later shown to have skittered underneath the net when it was knocked ajar. The replay officials failed to halt play before the ensuing faceoff, and the goal stood. It made quite the difference, because the Wild managed to tie the game at 3-3 in the second period, but ended up falling 4-3 in the end.

There’s always one stinker of a gift during the Holiday season. Consider Thursday our version of a holiday fruitcake.

It was a bitter pill to ingest, but another meeting with the Avs on Friday meant a shot at redemption, and revenge. Was this the Best Wild Week Ever or what?

Friday, December 23, 2005

The Holiday season is a time for sharing, so on Friday, the Wild shared its home rink with the Avs and proceeded to try and drive them through the Plexiglas.

If there was a must-win game in the first three months of the season, this was it. A loss and the Wild would drop nine points behind Colorado, the eighth place team in the West. A win would pull the Wild to within five points, with six games left between the two clubs. The Wild got what it needed, a rousing 5-3 win that included five different Wild scorers, three Wild goals in the final 5:27 of regulation, and two goals by former W’s, Brunette and Laaksonen.

In fact, Marek Svatos scored the only goal by a player who has never donned the Forest Green and Iron Range Red.

Saturday, December 24 and Sunday, December 25, 2005

A clause in the Collective Bargaining Agreement states that teams are not allowed to practice or play on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

What could be a better way to close out the Best Wild Week Ever than to take two days off to relax with family and friends?

Well, we could find out...

…Who had the Best Wild Week Ever?

Mikko Koivu is one of four Wild players who were not only named to their countries Olympic teams, but also had the Best Wild Week Ever.
Wild Olympians. You may have gotten that iPod Nano, the remote control dinosaur or a Hello Kitty purse you’ve been asking for, but Brian Rolston, Mikko Koivu, Marian Gaborik and Filip Kuba got the Christmas present they dreamed about since their formative years.

All four were selected to represent their home countries on the grandest hockey stage of them all, the Winter Olympics. While yours truly will be rooting hard for the Red, White and Blue (of the U.S.A, not Russia, Slovakia, Italy or the Czech Republic), it doesn’t matter what country we cheer for.

We can all pull for our Wild boys as they play for their countries.

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