ST. PAUL — The Wild broke from its practice routine on Thursday to host the first of two scrimmages during the team’s Development Camp at Xcel Energy Center.
After a 60-minute 5-on-5 scrimmage and a five-minute 3-on-3 overtime session, Team Green and Team White finished tied 4-4.
More important than the score however was the performances of several key players that look primed to make a serious push for a roster spot in Minnesota during training camp this fall.
Alex Tuch and Sam Anas showed well for themselves on Team White, as did linemate Joel Eriksson Ek, who along with Anas, scored two of White’s four goals. Tuch set up Eriksson Ek’s goal with a nifty centering pass; Eriksson Ek’s initial shot was blocked but he gathered in the rebound and rifled it past Team Green goaltender Kaapo Kahkonen.
“I thought they were really good together,” said Wild Director of Player Development Brad Bombardir. “It was fun to watch them play.”
Tuch didn’t score a goal in the scrimmage but continued his strong week at Camp by doing the little things coaches have been hoping to see.
“This is his third camp and he’s come in in tremendous shape,” Bombardir said. “I thought he went out on the ice and did what he needed to do. There are areas of his game that he has to get better at; he has to play more in straight lines and he has to work harder and he has to work more consistently. He did that.”
Brady Brassart, who scored four goals for Iowa last season, and invitee Cody Bradley also scored goals for White.
White goaltenders Ales Stezka and Adam Vay combined to make 41 saves, with Vay especially impressive in the “second half” and in overtime. Vay made 26 saves in 25 minutes of play.
“It was a really good game,” Vay said. “It felt a little bit like I was in the World Championship because it was so fast. This for me, it wasn’t new. I gave up a couple of goals, but they are really good players [in camp] so I don’t feel bad.”
Nick Seeler, Mario Lucia and Zack Mitchell were among goal-scorers for Team Green. The scrimmage was another good moment for Mitchell, participating in his third prospect camp. A 22-goal scorer with Iowa last season, Mitchell’s name has been mentioned several times this week by new Iowa coach Derek Lalonde, who said he’s been impressed with the 6-foot-1, 194-pound winger.
“He looked like that third-year pro that is starting to separate himself here,” Lalonde said. “I’ve been impressed with Zack. He scored 20 goals on a team last year that didn’t win a lot of games. That’s a guy that’s had two full years of pro hockey, he’s in his third camp, you’d hope he’d start to separate himself and he looks like that.
“He’s looking like a guy that wants to push for the big club.”
Mitchell said there’s a level of comfort that comes in being a veteran at the camp but said he doesn’t want to get too comfortable with where he is at as a player, especially with several new coaches at both the NHL and AHL levels within the organization.
“You want to make good first impressions,” Mitchell said. “You don’t want to be too comfortable or blend in. It’s my third time here and they should be able to tell by watching me out there.”
Development Camp continues on Friday as the players will return to Xcel Energy Center for small group skating sessions. After a scheduled off day on Saturday, the prospects will compete in the final scrimmage of the week at 5 p.m on Sunday. The scrimmage is free and open to the public.