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Spurgeon Out Against Oilers; Getting To Know Keranen

by Mike Doyle / Minnesota Wild

The Minnesota Wild will be without Edmonton-native, Jared Spurgeon, tomorrow as the club wraps its three-game Western Canadian road trip against the Oilers at Rexall Place. The blueliner is out with an upper-body injury after taking a puck up high yesterday against the Calgary Flames.

Wild Head Coach Mike Yeo said he doesn’t know how long Spurgeon will be sidelined.

“I don’t have an answer on that,” Yeo said. “The only thing I’ve got word on is that he’s out for tomorrow.”

The bench boss said that he and the staff would discuss the potential of recalling a defenseman from its American Hockey League affiliate, the Iowa Wild, or suiting up Stu Bickel on the blue line. If Minnesota recalls a defenseman, the team will have to place a player on Injured Reserve or return one to Iowa.

Meet Michael Keranen

Yesterday, Minnesota recalled forward Michael Keranen from Iowa. The 25-year-old joined the team after morning skate and participated in warmups, but didn’t make his National Hockey League debut. Today, Keranen was one of a handful of players in Edmonton participating in an optional skate.

Last season skating for Ilves Tampere of the Finnish Elite League (SM-Liiga), he earned the Lasse Oksanen Award, given to the best player during the regular season. He tied for the SM-Liiga lead in points (17-35=52) and was tied for second in assists. Over the summer, Keranen signed as a free agent with Minnesota on June 5.

“They have a good young team and they liked me as a player,” Keranen said. “So it was pretty easy to sign here.”

The forward said it’s been a difficult season in Iowa, with the team battling for wins. He was thrilled to get his first National Hockey League call-up.

“It was nice,” Keranen said. “We just landed in Charlotte and I got the call to come to Calgary and join the team.”

He’s had to adjust to the North American game, but despite the learning curve, he’s maintained his production offensively. The forward leads Iowa in assists (23) and is second in points (32).

“The ice is smaller,” Keranen said. “You’re a little bit closer to the net to shoot the puck, that’s the biggest difference.”

His roster card might list his birthplace as Stockholm, Sweden, but Keranen said his parents are Finnish and he’s a Finn through and through. In school growing up in Finland, he learned English, but being in North America has given him the opportunity to practice and experience the language first-hand.

“Language is a big part,” Keranen said. “Talking to teammates. We didn’t have Finnish guys down there, so I had to [speak] English every day and that’s how I’ve learned it.”

Of course, learning from teammates makes things easier, but here with Minnesota there’s a certain amount of comfort knowing he’s joining other Finns on the Wild roster.

“There’s lots of Finnish guys, it’s easy to come here,” Keranen.

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