's backhand is one of the most dangerous weapons in the Wild's shootout arsenal. Most NHL goaltenders know it's coming, and yet they rarely are ready for his flick of the wrist from forehand to backhand that lifts the puck top shelf on the far side.
But last year, a high school junior had no problem stopping the shot, and even threw in some good-hearted taunting for extra measure.
The final event of Hockey Day Minnesota last year actually came the next day with the Wild Skills Competition being held at Xcel Energy Center. Several high school hockey players played major roles in the various events, especially the goaltenders, who were subbing in for resting regulars, Niklas Backstrom
and Josh Harding
One of them was Hill-Murray's Tim Shaughnessy, who is now prepping to be a part of the upcoming Hockey Day Minnesota on Feb. 12, when the Pioneers take on the Moorhead Spuds in one of the outdoor games in Moorhead.
Now a senior, Shaughnessy can rely on his experience shutting down Kaptain Koivu and his wicked backhand while in the spotlight of last year's Wild Skills Competition.
A year has passed, but Shaughnessy still remembers it well.
“I had done a couple of skills competitions and shootouts before," he said. "But obviously nothing like going up against Wild players…It was just a really fun day.”
While Shaughnessy participated in events throughout the afternoon, he’ll be remembered for going head-to-head with Koivu and not backing down. The final event was a shootout competition that included the entire roster of Wild skaters.
After impressively stopping six Wild players and only allowing five-hole goals to Shane Hnidy (the event’s winner) and Kim Johnsson, Shaughnessy faced the challenge of going up against Koivu as the final shooter.
Sensing that Shaughnessy was winning over the crowd, Koivu played to the moment.
With a huge grin on his face at center ice, Koivu used two fingers to point to his eyes and then to Shaughnessy as if to say, “You watching? I’m coming for you.”
Koivu circled center ice before streaking towards the goal, going wide left before cutting back right and firing his go-to backhander. Shaughnessy got his glove up and the puck bounced wide. As Shaughnessy raised his arms in celebration to return some of the friendly taunting, Koivu circled back to give him a congratulatory tap on the pads.
“Koivu was actually chirping me the entire time before that, along with some of his teammates. So when he came down, I had some fun with him afterward."
Asked if he still remembers what happened when he faced off against a high school goalie in the shootout Koivu grinned and quickly quipped, “When he owned me? Yeah, I remember that.”
Koivu also remembers giving some good-natured chirps to Shaughnessy with the rest of his teammates. But all the taunting didn’t affect the young goaltender, who was mobbed by his Team Green teammates after clinching the 9-6 victory over Team Red.
“I would like to face him again and see what he has,” Koivu said laughing. “It was fun and I’m sure it was fun for [the high school players] as well.”
Shaughnessy will again be in the spotlight on Hockey Day, which will also feature Wayzata vs. Roseau, along with the University of Minnesota vs. the University of Denver at Mariucci Arena and the Wild vs. the St. Louis Blues at Xcel Energy Center.
"It's going to be very exciting,” said Shaughnessy of playing in this year’s Hockey Day. “Ever since they started the tradition of the outdoor game, I've always wanted to do that - to be the goalie with the hat on top of his helmet. I got myself my hat and I think it's going to be a lot of fun.”
The Hill-Murray netminder is trying to savor his final year playing alongside all the friends he grew up with, and hopes to continue his time between the pipes, whether it is in the Canadian Junior leagues or staying in the states with the USHL or NAHL.
If he needs any references, there is a Wild captain and Finnish Olympian that can attest to his skills.