The story of Joel Ward just keeps getting better.
| Joel Ward impressed the Wild coaching staff in September, which earned him a professional contract with the club. |
A tryout player at the Minnesota Wild’s training camp this season, Ward endeared himself to head coach Jacques Lemaire with a relentless work ethic. He earned a contract while at camp, and was one of the final roster cuts prior to the start of the regular season. On Wednesday, he became an official member of the Minnesota Wild after getting called up from the Houston Aeros. He arrived in time for the end of Wednesday’s practice at Rexall Place in Edmonton.
"He’s a guy that is going to work hard every shift," said Lemaire following Wednesday’s practice. "I really enjoy the way he plays. We’ll see, it’s a different ballgame in the NHL. Everyone gets better as the year goes on, so we’ll see what he can do in this situation."
At 6-foot-2, 215 pounds, Ward brings some size and muscle to a team lacking in brute strength outside of Derek Boogaard. He notched three goals and four assists through 23 games with the Aeros this season, his second in Houston. Last year, he finished with eight goals and 14 assists in 66 games. He then picked up four goals and two assists in eight playoff games.
Ward was holiday shopping in Houston when he got the phone call from Aeros head coach Rob Daum.
"I can’t describe the feeling I had in inside," he said. "It’s unbelievable. I was calling home, and my family was pretty excited about it. It’s been a long few years."
After playing four years in the Ontario Hockey League, Ward played four seasons in Canadian college hockey with the University of Prince Edward Island.
To make room for Ward, who will wear number 39, the Wild assigned Matt Foy to Houston.