There may be All-Star festivities across the river, but tonight was all about up-and-coming talent at Xcel Energy Center.
To cap off the Wild’s 2014 Development Camp, the prospects scrimmaged for the second time this week with Team Green taking the win, 5-3.
Friday’s 4-0 win seemed to have stuck with Team Green as the squad carried play most of the first half, giving Team White few chances to put much together. Team Green didn’t relent in the second half, keeping just out of Team White’s reach.
The game winner came on the lone successful penalty shot of the night as Minnesota Duluth Bulldog Alex Iafallo buried a backhand-forehand move on Team White netminder Kaapo Kahkonen with Adam Phillips chasing, giving Team Green a 4-2 lead at the time.
Team White forward Zack Mitchell made things interesting showing a little patience, drawing the score to within a goal. The forward skated across the slot, looked to shoot but held on and carried the puck around the back of the net to jam home the wraparound on Team Green goaltender Brandon Whitney.
Team Green forward Reid Duke netted his second the night for the resulting score, 5-3, carrying the puck into the zone and to the net for a shot that dribbled across the line midway through the second half. Duke netted his first earlier in the half, tipping in a long shot from the blue line. He didn’t get to celebrate the feat as he and fellow 2014 sixth round pick Chase Lang drew a minor tussle right after the goal.
“We’re all working together so you want to be cool with everyone, but at the same time everyone is your competition,” Duke said. “The best impression you can make, it means a lot. To put the best game out there for yourself, it goes a long ways.”
Also putting that sentiment on display was 2014 first round pick Alex Tuch who was a bright spot on Team White. The forward tied things up, 1-1, around the seven-minute mark of the 30-minute first half, spinning in the slot and firing the puck past Team Green goaltender Brandon Whitney.
He also continued to create noise around the net for most of the night along with linemates Raphael Bussieres and Brady Brassart.
“I just wanted to go out there with a bang and have some fun,” Tuch said. “I got a goal out of it so it kind of made my night.
“Coming here I wanted to score a couple goals and got one in the end, so it was a moment of relief.”
At the time Tuch’s goal leveled the scrimmage, 1-1. Team Green took an early lead as Guillaume Gelinas cleaned up a rebound for the tally, beating Team White and Golden Gopher goaltender Michael Shibrowski.
The Green shirts extended that lead early in the second as Excelsior, Minnesota native and Golden Gopher Vinni Lettieri scored on a shot from high in the slot that wobbled across the line.
Adam Gilmour gave Team White some hope again, drawing even 2-2 as he buried a goal after some tic-tac-toe passing down the middle of the zone.
After the scrimmage was settled, the prospects took part in an all-team shootout.
This time it was Team White taking the honors, 5-4, as Mitchell, Dylan Labbe, Avery Peterson, Dallas Valentine and Hunter Warner scored. Kurtis Gabriel, Tanner Faith, Zach Palmquist and Gelinas scored for Team Green.
While Gelinas had a pretty shot, firing home his attempt from high in the slot, it was Faith’s net-front toe drag that may have been the dirtiest successful attempt of the night. While some guys stuck to tried-and-true backhand-forehand moves, others tried to get fancy with multiple dekes or lacrosse-like attempts.
Overall, the experience was a fun way to bring Development Camp to an end and give the prospects some exposure to the State of Hockey faithful.
“It’s great to get in here, the fans are great,” Duke said. “It’s great for them to come out and support us like that in Development Camp. It means a lot for us coming in here, it’s nice to see them and great to have their support.”