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Days At Camp

by Eric Walsh / Minnesota Wild
The primary objective is evident for the 31 Minnesota Wild prospects taking part in the developmental camp this week. These guys are here to play hockey and impress the team’s administrative decision makers while doing so.

How are some of them spending their time off the ice, though? tracked a few of the players down to find out.

Folks already familiar with the neighborhood, like Danny Irmen, the former Minnesota Golden Gopher standout, and Chris Hickey, a native of St. Paul who played his high school puck at Cretin-Derham Hall, have it easy. Those two can buzz around the metro as they please with freedom provided by their own vehicle. Others are more restricted. Take Cal Clutterbuck, for example. He’s part of the crew staying at the hotel near Xcel Energy Center.

“Staying in the hotel, you’re kind of confined to the downtown St. Paul area,” said Clutterbuck, who was a third-round selection (72nd overall) of the Wild in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft and spent last season with the Ontario Hockey League’s Oshawa Generals, racking up 89 points (34 goals-54 assists) along the way. “We go to the Mall of America when there’s enough time.”

On Thursday, the prospects were given the afternoon off following the usual one hour and fifteen minute morning skate session. So, Clutterbuck and some of the gang, Ryan Hamilton and Ryan Jones included, ventured out to the mall to pick up some items, which is of no surprise to Irmen, who referred to Clutterbuck and Hamilton as “two of the biggest mall rats out there.”

Whether he is actually a “mall rat” or not, Clutterbuck picked up his latest prized possession: a pair of $12.99 aviator sunglasses.  As for finding something to do at the hotel, Mr. Irmen has helped foster a cure for a couple of those who may have been suffering from hotel claustrophobia.

“We play cribbage and guitar hero in our room,” Clutterbuck said.  “Irmen brought his Xbox over and [Kyle] Medvec is going to bring another guitar. Irmen is the best at it, for sure. He’s better at that than he is at hockey! Just kidding.”

That’s right, Guitar Hero, the interactive video game that has all kinds of people rocking out on a plastic guitar to some of the most famous rock and roll songs ever. Irmen says his favorite track on the game is “Sweet Child o’ Mine”, the 1988 hit single released by Guns N’ Roses.

“I’m not too bad at it,” admitted Irmen, who spent last winter with the Houston Aeros, the Wild’s American Hockey League affiliate, and recorded 37 points (17-20). “I beat all three games, but if you get somebody who is pretty good, they can probably beat me. There’s about four or us who play -- me, [Paul] Albers, Clutterbuck and [Ryan] Hamilton -- and they kept bugging me to bring it, so it’s pretty intense.”

Back on the ice, the intensity will continue to rise for Hickey and the other prospects leading up to Monday’s three-hour afternoon scrimmage, the last installment of this year’s camp proceedings. 

“We had a half-day on Saturday so I squeezed in a round of golf,” said Hickey, who recently graduated from Cretin-Derham and posted 20 goals and 13 assists for the Raiders as a senior in 2006-07. “My main focus is to finish up strong with a good outing here.”
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