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Best Wild Week Ever

by Staff Writer / Minnesota Wild

 Hugs all around people! It’s time for the Best Wild Week Ever. (cr. Bruce Kluckhohn)
Is it January 9 already? Where has 2006 gone?

It’s been a good year for the Minnesota Wild, which has lost just once so far in zero six.

But this is Best Wild Week Ever, where we recap the past week, not the past year. And last week was a doozy for the Minnesota Wild and its fans. The boys in Forest Green and Iron Range Red won a pair of big conference games (while losing another one), to climb up to sole possession of ninth place in the West. Additionally, seven Wild players were out and about on Wednesday, and two brand new Wild-focused shows hit the airwaves over the weekend.

The Minnesota Wild is all about the present, and the very bright future. But that doesn’t mean we can’t take a look back at what is sure to be remembered as the Best Wild Week Ever.

To look at past weeks that used to be the Best Wild Weeks Ever, click here.

Monday, January 2, 2006

A day after New Year’s, the Minnesota Wild found itself in Detroit, Michigan, where it held a practice at Joe Louis Arena to prepare for the Red Wings. Prior to practice, defenseman Willie Mitchell was named captain for the month of January, retaining the title he was awarded in December. It was the sixth time in team history that a player has been given the “C” for two consecutive months.

 Jim Sardelli apologizes for the quality of the photo. As he said, "my parents have issues with my good camera." (cr. Mr. and Mrs. Sardelli)
But this Monday didn’t belong to Mitchell. It belonged to 17-year-old goaltender Jim Sardelli, who straps on the pads for the Little Caesars Major Midget team, which was waiting at the Joe to practice after Minnesota. With Manny Fernandez ill with the flu, Sardelli was told by his coach to get out on the ice, because the Wild needed another goalie.

Despite facing shots the likes of which he had never seen, Sardelli was thrilled to be able to practice with an NHL team.

“I never understood what hockey announcers meant when they said a guy had a ‘heavy’ shot,” said Sardelli, who is being recruited by several college teams. “I realized it when the Wild players started blowing pucks through my equipment. Every time they came down on me, they did something different. And Gaborik made me feel like a little kid on a breakaway.”

Sardelli wasn’t just amazed at the Wild’s talent, but also the kindness of the Wild players, who gave him a gift he’ll cherish forever.

“The best part was after my practice. There was a Dwayne Roloson goalie stick autographed by the whole team sitting in my locker room stall. And they all thanked me for coming out with them. I thought I was supposed to be kissing up to them!”

The extra practice served Sardelli well. Despite his team falling in triple overtime during the quarterfinals of a tournament in Quebec over the weekend, Sardelli stopped 51 shots in the loss to earn MVP honors.

Tuesday, January 3, 2006

On Tuesday, Dwayne Roloson performed his best Jim Sardelli imitation, turning in a brilliant 43 save performance in a 4-2 win over the Red Wings. It was an enormous victory for “Roli,” who won just one game in the month of December. It was an even bigger win for Minnesota, which moved to within one point of eighth-place Colorado, if only for a couple hours (Colorado beat Nashville later in the night to cushion its lead to three points).

Andrei Zyuzin and Filip Kuba represented for the Wild blueline corps, scoring first period goals. And third period goals by Brian Rolston and Alexandre Daigle were enough to overcome two tip-in goals by Detroit’s Tomas Holmstrom.

At this point, I smell the ingredients necessary to cook up a Best Wild Week Ever.

Wednesday, January 4, 2006

If you got out of the house to do your daily chores on Wednesday, there’s a good chance you ran into a Wild player or two.

 Dwayne Roloson and Karen Wallace stocked up on spices to cruise to a runaway victory over Nick Schultz and Chad Hanson at Wild In the Aisles.
Morning shoppers at the Midway Cub Foods in St. Paul saw Roloson and Nick Schultz tearing around the aisles with rickety grocery carts in tow. But these guys had good reasons for shoving old ladies aside to fill up their carts. For the third consecutive year, they were taking part in Wild In The Aisles to benefit the Second Harvest Heartland Food Bank.

Roloson paired up with Karen Wallace of Coon Rapids, while Schultz teamed with Chad Hanson of Elk River in the contest. The object was to pile up as many food items as possible in five minutes, while totaling a higher price amount.

It was fairly obvious that Roloson has done his share of grocery shopping. The married father of two tricked the younger (soon-to-be-married) Schultz by dragging Wallace to the Spice section. They loaded up on the compact, but expensive bottles of thyme, lemon pepper and paprika to seal the victory.

Wallace received a $500 gift card for Cub Foods, a Wild jersey and two tickets to a Wild game for winning the title of Grocery Shopper Extraordinaire. Hanson made out pretty well too, getting a $100 gift card as well as a jersey and tickets. The big winner was Second Harvest Heartland Food Bank, because the money raised was used to help out hungry families throughout the area.

After getting groceries, people often head to the bank to make sure they didn’t just overdraft on the checking account. If they did, their visit to Wells Fargo was brightened if they were at one of four Wells Fargo locations in the Twin Cities area. Willie Mitchell, Derek Boogaard, Randy Robitaille and Kyle Wanvig took part in signing autographs for two hours in Blaine, Brooklyn Center, Eden Prairie and Minneapolis.

I don’t know about you, but after I’ve done my grocery shopping at Cub and my banking at Wells Fargo, I like to go chill at the Brooklyn Park Recreation Center. And what to my wondering eyes should appear? Why it was none other than Marc Chouinard, who was on hand for the latest taping of Call of the Wild.

By time I got home, I was beat. But I fell asleep with a smile on my face, knowing that this week was well on its way to being the Best Wild Week Ever.

Thursday, January 5, 2006

Every bag of peanut M&M’s has that one mutant candy with the surface severely cracked and a second peanut protruding from the center. Thursday was that mutant M&M in an otherwise delicious week.

The Wild had a chance to climb within one point of the Colorado Avalanche, which held the eighth and final playoff spot in the West. Despite a spirited effort in the first period, the Wild uncharacteristically gave up three breakaway goals and couldn’t overcome two three-goal deficits, falling to the Avs, 4-2.

Friday, January 6, 2005

A loss the night before was a good signal to divert our attention to something else for a day, and Friday night was All About The…Minnesota Swarm. The second-year lacrosse team played its home opener at the Xcel Energy Center against the hated Philadelphia Wings, who beat our boys in blue to the tune of 15-11.

But this wasn’t the Best Wild Week Ever for nothing. Alex Henry and Kurtis “Bananaz” Foster took in the Swarm game, and participated in an on-field halftime intermission activity. Each player had to use a lacrosse stick to pass a lacrosse ball to a lucky kid. All the youngsters had to do was shoot the ball into an empty net, which would have been a lot easier had the Wild defensemen put their passes within 40 feet of where the kids were standing.

That’s okay Bananaz and Hank; we’ll forgive you…even if their young lacrosse partners won’t.

Saturday, January 7, 2006

 Derek Boogaard’s one-handed shovel goal on Saturday solidified last week as the Best Wild Week Ever. (cr. Bruce Kluckhohn)
A Saturday evening television show beginning at 5:30 may not be considered “primetime” by the fat cats in the television industry, but it is now if you’re a Wild fan. Minnesota Wild Country, a half-hour magazine-style show airing on KSTC.TV Channel 45, made its highly anticipated debut. The show featured weekly highlights, a spotlight feature and news and notes about the Wild.

You may have noticed that I simply copied exactly what last week’s press release said about the show. I didn’t actually get to see the pilot episode, because I was getting myself mentally prepared to watch the Wild take on the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim. I promise I won’t miss another episode.

Some of us have to work on Saturday, including the Wild, which needed a big Saturday night win to solidify the week as the Best Wild Week Ever.

They got it. When Derek “The Boogeyman” Boogaard scored the first goal of the game, a win was a foregone conclusion. The Mighty Ducks tied it in the first at 1-1, but red-hot Randy Robitaille put the Wild ahead with the game-winner late in the first. And the white-hot Todd White (sorry, that was lame) scored his ninth third period goal of the season. Marian Gaborik also scored, and Manny Fernandez stopped 22 of 23 shots for his sixth straight win.

Is there anything that could happen on Sunday to prevent the week from becoming the Best Wild Week Ever?

Sunday, January 8, 2006

An emphatic negative on that one Chester! Sunday was yet another monumental day in Wild broadcasting history, as WCCO Wild Sunday made its debut on WCCO 830 AM radio. Wild broadcasters Bob Kurtz and Tom Reid joined host Eric Nelson for a half hour of hockey talk at its finest.

Wild president/general manager Doug Risebrough joined Kurtz and Reid to answer questions regarding where the team is, how player development is coming, and where the “organ-eye-zation” is going. He also touched on issues such as playoff possibilities, and his desire to see the Wild in a division with teams like Chicago and St. Louis.

Risebrough said he is happy that the team is playing well as he continues to look at the big picture, which is building a consistent playoff contender.

You don’t need me to tell you everything he said, because you can click here and listen to the show yourself. As you listen, you may notice that Risebrough stopped short of mentioning the Best Wild Week Ever, but that’s where I come in. I now officially declare the week of January 2 through January 8 the Best Wild Week Ever.

But we still need to find out…

…Who had the Best Wild Week Ever?

Randy Robitaille. There were a lot of contenders for this week’s award. Sardelli and Mitchell had a great start to the week, and there were just so many people who benefited from Schultz and Roloson’s grocery binge. But we’re going with Robitaille, who scored the game-winner on Saturday and played his best game of the year on Tuesday. He was pointless on the evening, but he rattled two shots off the post, and was everywhere in the offensive and defensive zones. Jacques Lemaire heaped praise on the Wild newcomer, and when that happens, you’re definitely having the Best Wild Week Ever.

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