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Wild Finishes Duluth Trip In Front Of Fans

by Evan Sporer / Minnesota Wild

After playing five preseason games in seven days last week, the Wild is in the middle of stretch of three games—one preseason and two regular season—in 17 days.

So it's a different stretch of the schedule for the Wild with a lot less hockey, and one that's being managed accordingly.

"We have a game tomorrow, and we have to prepare like that's our first game, and then build off that," Ryan Suter said. "Our focus now is on tomorrow, and just making sure we're ready to go. After that, we'll have to manage the long stretch we have."

Wednesday's practice in Duluth, the last event on the Wild's team-bonding trip, was open to the public, and drew about 2,000 fans. It was the second open-practice the Wild has hosted this preseason after its second training camp practice at Xcel Energy Center was open to the public on Sept. 19.

"I was surprised when I came on the ice today, I didn't realize there was going to be people here," Devan Dubnyk said. "I was a little nervous out there, I didn't want to fall over, but it makes it exciting, and hopefully they enjoyed it."

Dubnyk and Suter both said they're expecting to play against a pretty full-strength Buffalo Sabres lineup on Thursday when the Wild plays its final game of the preseason.

"That last one is kind of important to try to get some good feelings going into the year," Dubnyk said. "I'm sure they'll have a full lineup as well and they've been playing well in the preseason so it should be a challenge for us."

Buffalo defeated the Wild earlier this preseason, 3-2, in a game that was started by Darcy Kuemper.

And with one preseason game and then seven days separating the Wild from its season opener against the Colorado Avalanche on Oct. 8, the Duluth trip was another item checked off the list with regular season hockey fast approaching.

"It was a great turnout today, and with all the fans here, the players had a real good focus," Head Coach Mike Yeo said. "They got a lot of work done. As much as anything else it's the time spent with the guys. We have a real close group, and this is an important step as far as getting your team ready, and getting your head in the right place. We have a long grind ahead of us now, and we're excited to get her going."

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