Of course, we all know that last week was much more than just a .500 record. It was so much more than that. We also named a new captain, saw the debut of the Wild Pond Hockey Championships, and sent 200 crazy Wild fans to the desert to will the Wild to an important 6-4 victory over the hated Phoenix Coyotes.
You add all that up, divide it by pie squared, figure in the Pythagorean theorem, and carry the four, you’ll come up with the Best Wild Week Ever. In case you need to check my math, read below and you’ll soon realize that it is indeed fact. Last week was the Best Wild Week Ever.
Monday, January 30, 2006
A big Wild week started out with a big Western Conference opponent, known to many as the Detroit Red Wings. The Wild didn’t exactly charge out of the gate for this one. Before you could say, “Chris Chelios is how old?” the Wings were out in front with a 4-0 lead. Steve Yzerman, Robert Lang, Mikael Samuelsson and Henrik Zetterberg put up the four-spot on Manny Fernandez, sending him to the showers for the first time this season (not literally, as I’m sure Fernandez is very hygienic).
The Wild stormed back in the second behind three goals on four shots from Marian Gaborik, Todd White and Andrei Zyuzin. The crowd came to life, and it appeared as though panic could possibly overtake the veteran-laden Wings. Alas, Andreas Lilja’s first goal of the year gave Detroit a much-needed cushion in the third, because Filip Kuba lit the lamp to ignite a frenzied eruption inside the Xcel Energy Center.
On this night, it was not to be for the Wild despite the spirited second and third period effort, and a lesson was learned. You’ll need to play a full 60 minutes to beat a team like the Red Wings, and you’ll have to come with more than a big comeback to make this the Best Wild Week Ever.
Tuesday, January 31, 2006
| Even though his team beat the Wild on Tuesday, we still love Andrew Brunette for providing one of the Greatest Moments in Wild history. |
The Wild bunch awoke on Tuesday morning in Denver, Colorado. About half the team made it over to the Pepsi Center for the optional morning skate to prepare for the Avalanche. The other half were likely logging onto their laptops to find out which of the Greatest Moments in Wild history were selected by fans to commemorate on a series of collectible pucks.
The breakdown was as follows: Year One – The NHL’s return to Minnesota on October 11, 2000; Year Two – Jacques Lemaire’s 600th career NHL game, which was a 4-2 win over the Montreal Canadiens, the team he won eight Stanley Cups with; Year Three – Andrew Brunette’s overtime game-winner over the Colorado Avalanche in Game Seven of the Western Conference quarterfinals on April 22, 2003; Year Four – The Wild hosting the 54th Annual All-Star Weekend.
Click here to find out when each commemorative puck will be given to Wild fans at select home games.
The Wild tried to create the Greatest Moment of 2005 later that night, against the Colorado Avalanche. There were a couple of good (but not great) moments created by Brian Rolston and Marian Gaborik goals. The Avs snuck by the Wild, 3-2, and we were left with some work to do to make this the Best Wild Week Ever.
Wednesday, February 1, 2006
| Patrick O’Sullivan showcased his canon shot at the AHL Skills Competition. (cr. Matthew Manor - AHL) |
The Wild crashed one more night in Denver before flying to San Jose, California on Wednesday morning. The Wild landed in Cali, and then headed straight to practice at a three-rink complex within the city to prepare for Thursday night’s clash with the Sharks.
There was some game action on Wednesday night, but it was all the way up in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, where the American Hockey League All Star Game took place. Four Houston Aeros participated in the game, including Patrick O’Sullivan, Erik Westrum, Kirby Law and Curtis Murphy.
Westrum was held without a point, while O’Sullivan scored once for PlanetUSA in a losing effort. Murphy and Law combined for three assists in helping Team Canada to a 9-4 win. These All Star efforts provided the necessary glimmer of hope that this week will indeed reign as the Best Wild Week Ever.
Thursday, February 2, 2006
At the Wild’s morning skate on Thursday, Randy Robitaille emerged from the locker room wearing the “C” on his practice jersey. Most of the time, an equipment manager stitches the “C” onto the jersey. Robitaille took it upon himself to make his own out of white hockey tape.
His role as captain was short-lived, because leading scorer Brian Rolston was “officially” given the honor in a locker room ceremony just prior to the boys taking the ice against the Sharks. Rolston proved to be a worthy selection, but not before Robitaille and Gaborik picked up goals to force overtime.
In the club’s first shootout since November 30, Manny Fernandez was impenetrable in five rounds, and Rolston put in the only goal to snap the Wild’s three-game skid. The Best Wild Week Ever was beginning to take shape thanks to the team’s second shootout victory of the season.
Friday, February 3, 2006
| We promise this collection of Wild employees was meeting for business purposes only. |
As you well know, Minnesota is the greatest darn place on this planet. There’s simply no questioning that fact. A sunny, 75-degree day in February in Phoenix is a close second. Of course, the Wild players weren’t about to expose themselves to a scoring sun and risk skin blisters while sipping Hi-C on the pool deck. They boarded a bus for practice at Polar Ice on the outskirts of Phoenix to prepare for Saturday’s third and final game of the road trip.
Not everybody missed out on the weather, as a group of 200 season ticket holders, and 30 corporate sponsors arrived as part of the Wild road trip. With an afternoon to kill, these super fans enjoyed some sun on the patio of the Ritz Carlton. Early reports came in that some Wild employees also made their way down to the pool area, but I’m quite certain they all finished up a hard day’s work before indulging in the sunlight.
Saturday, February 4, 2006
| The Wild fans were in full force in Glendale Arena, pushing the Wild to a 6-4 victory over the Yotes. |
Saturday was a monumental day in Wild history, as the long-anticipated debut of the Wild Pond Hockey Championships was finally upon us. There were 32 teams battling for supremacy as the greatest hockey team ever to play on a frozen Lake Phalen. After one day of heated battles, eight teams qualified for the championship round on Sunday, including Team Jabroni, which would have earned the award for best team name had one been given.
Out west, Wild general manager Doug Risebrough met with the throng of Wild fans/tourists, who in an impressive show of team unity, tried their best to change their flesh tones to Iron Range Red by sitting poolside for eight hours prior. After welcoming everybody and thanking them for their amazing show of support, Risebrough spoke for close to 20 minutes as he described his philosophy of building from within and creating a core of players to build around as he tries to build a consistent Cup contender.
A few hours later, the Wild scored enough goals to look like a Cup contender. After a scoreless first period with the Coyotes, Marian Gaborik and Wes Walz delighted the Wild following in the arena’s lower bowl with two goals each. Todd White and Pierre-Marc Bouchard also scored as the Wild left Glendale Arena with two huge points and a group of happy Wild fans followed them back to the hotel.
Sunday, February 5, 2006
The Wild flew back to the Twin Cities on Sunday morning, and was given the rest of the day off to watch commercials in between a football game between a couple of teams from Pittsburgh and Seattle. Apparently it was the championship game and it showcased four guys in their seventies singing during halftime.
Of course, in February, football is always overshadowed by hockey in these parts, and the real story was on Lake Phalen where the Pond Hockey Championships were wrapping up.
Eight teams remained on Super Sunday, but only one could earn the title as Pond Hockey Champion and win a $250 gift card to Best Buy.
The winner of the tournament just happens to coincide with…
…Who had the Best Wild Week Ever?
| Not only did they have the Best Wild Week Ever, but the Mavrix also won the "Busiest Windpants Award." |
The Mavrix. Six players known to their families as Jeff Markus, Josh Bertelson, Brett MacKinnon, Kevin Erickson, Derek Bendell and Jason Breiland will forever have their names etched in hockey lore as the first-ever winners of the Wild Pond Hockey Championships.
The Mavrix steamrolled their way to an undefeated 6-0-0-0 record by getting past the likes of The Bandits, TBD Weber and Moose Knuckle on Saturday, then running the table on Sub Zero, Old Balls and the LumberJacks on Sunday. The ecstatic players’ moods were only dampened by the fact that they all are now stricken with pneumonia after Markus, the team captain, doused his teammates with a jug of PowerAde (I may have made that last part up, but congratulations anyway to the Mavrix).