Early in the second period the Wild held a fast 2-0 lead. Finally, a win in the Traverse City Tournament seemed to loom on the horizon.
But Minnesota got too comfortable. Before the second intermission, the Wild went from a 2-0 lead to trailing 3-2, eventually suffering a 5-2 loss to the New York Rangers in the 7th place tilt of the tournament.
“It was kind of a sloppy game from start to finish,” Wild Assistant General Manager Brent Flahr said. “We got off to the 2-0 lead and got a little comfortable and just sloppy in the defensive zone. We have to execute better in certain situations.”
The Wild opened the second with a pair of goals at the 2:38 mark and 5:25 mark from forward Carter Sandlak and Miles Koules respectively. The Rangers evened it up within 10 minutes as Rangers Jesper Fast netted two quick goals at 15:37 and 15:51.
With goaltender Johan Gustafsson getting the day off, netminder Alexandre Belanger got the nod between the pipes and relinquished his third goal of the second period to forward Danny Kristo at 16:36. The Rangers added two more goals in the third as forward Andrew Yogan beat Belanger at the 7:54 mark and added an empty netter with 46 seconds left on the clock.
“We wanted to give our young goalie a chance to get into the game as well,” Flahr said of Belanger getting the start. “He really didn’t do anything wrong. It’s just an opportunity to see some of these tryouts and place a lot of different guys in different situations.”
Defenseman Matt Dumba also got the day off as he prepares for training camp later this week. Despite sitting out, Flahr credited Dumba as the most impressive player on the ice over the weekend for the Wild.
“Dumba really stood out in every game he’s played in,” Flahr said. “His mobility, poise and his ability to move the puck, to deke and shoot, it is what it is. He clearly came here with a mindset and wanted to make a positive impression. He did that.”
Through four games at the Tournament, the Wild — who carried a tryout-heavy roster — failed to win a single game, including an overtime loss and a shootout loss. While the tournament provided the scouting staff some time to get to know the team better, it’s hard not to head home feeling disappointed.
“I don’t think we like to lose games, ever,” Flahr said. “But looking at our lineup and what we have here versus some of the others, we have a lot of tryouts here. It was positive as far as the guys we had expectations for — Dumba and Gustafsson — they performed very well. … For a lot of guys it’s their first pro tournament or first pro experience in general and they have a lot to learn.”