Hockey arenas are often referred to as “barns” and the Minnesota Wild walked into one of the cooler old buildings around for practice today in Calgary. The team dressed at the Scotiabank Saddledome, where the Wild will face the Flames tomorrow night, and crossed the street for an afternoon skate at the Stampede Corral, a multipurpose facility that opened in 1950.
It was amusing to see the players fully dressed with the exception of their skates, which were looped through their sticks and slung across their shoulders, as they crossed the road.
“Everyone was game for it and it was a good practice,” Wild forward Justin Fontaine said.
Fontaine grew up in Bonnyville, Alberta, a little less than six hours north of Calgary. It was his first time skating at the arena. An unseasonably warm Alberta day provided a pleasant jaunt across the road for the Wild, as the team went through a brisk practice concentrating on transition and systems play.
“It feels like spring actually,” Fontaine said. “It was refreshing, kind of woke you up in the morning.”
Wild Head Coach Mike Yeo liked the way that the Albertan played last night in Edmonton. The wing assisted on the game’s first goal, taking an Oilers turnover and sliding the puck to Nino Niederreiter.
“I thought he had a really strong game,” Yeo said. “We’ve been stressing and improving our wall play and I thought that he was one of our best there.”
The Wild will have to be strong on the walls and in the details of its game again tomorrow night against the Flames. Calgary currently sits in the final Wild Card spot in the Western Conference, seven points ahead of Minnesota.
Rest Day For Suter
Defenseman Ryan Suter didn’t participate in practice. The blueliner had some discomfort and used today to rest. Yeo expects him to be in the lineup tomorrow against the Flames.
“We gave him the day off today,” Yeo said. “We’re operating under the assumption that he’ll play tomorrow.”
Cooke With Family
Forward Matt Cooke was absent during today’s skate as he traveled to be with loved ones due to a death in the family. Yeo didn’t want to go into details to respect the privacy of Cooke and his family, but said that he’ll be back for the game tomorrow.