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Wild Opens Traverse City With Win Against Rangers

by Evan Sporer / Minnesota Wild



The Minnesota Wild prospects opened the Traverse City tournament on Friday with a 5-2 win against the New York Rangers. 



After trailing 1-0 through the first period, the Wild scored five unanswered-goals, and outshot the Rangers 22-8 over the game's final 40 minutes.



"The first period we came out and I thought we were really sloppy," Wild assistant general manager Brent Flahr said. "I thought we worked hard, created chances but, too cute, and just the execution wasn't very good.



"That's expected with one partial practice, and then you go into a game. But we settled down and played a lot better in the second period, and pulled away."



The Wild didn't wait long to tie the game in the second period, scoring 78 seconds in when forward Jack Walker found the back of the net. 



"Probably our best line all night was Jack Walker, Brady Brassart, and Kurtis Gabriel," Flahr said. "They were good from start to finish. 



"Gabriel brings a real physical presence, [Brassart] played really solid defensively making plays, and Walker brings a lot of speed and energy."



The Wild also got goals from Christoph Bertschy, Carter Rigby, Sam Warning, and Chase Lang.

Mike Reilly also chipped in with two assists.



"He's highly competitive," Flahr said of Reilly. "His bread and butter is going to be his offense, but he needs to learn to take care of his own end, and I thought he did that, especially later in the game. Early I thought he was pressing a bit trying to do too much, which is totally normal in these things."



Flahr said when Reilly began to settle down his play influenced the game. 


"He made a lot of things happen for the back-end, and generated a lot of chances because of his mobility, and ability to get up ice and make plays," Flahr said. 



One of the challenges this tournament presents, according to Flahr, is getting a group of primarily unfamiliar players to gel, and also to stay within their games and not do too much in a setting where they want to impress management.

"A lot of these guys are nervous first of all, and at the same time, they're all trying to show out for themselves, and in some cases they try to do too much instead of just letting the play come to them, and simplifying things," Flahr said. "As the game went on, I thought we settled down and played well."

Flahr also said that Traverse City is a great evaluation tool for him and his staff.

"We see these guys at Development Camp, but you don't see the guys in highly competitive situations always," Flahr said. "But we get to see them against good competition, and see what guys bring to the table.

"Whether they're quality penalty killers, or tougher players, or skilled, or whatever their assets are they can show what they can do here, and it helps us."

Flahr said Minnesota's best player on Friday was Gustav Olofsson.

"Just the way he managed the puck and skated," Flahr said. "It doesn't always show as far as points, but he was tremendous."

The Wild’s next game is Saturday against the St. Louis Blues (6 p.m. CT).

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