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Wild Prospects finish third in Traverse City

by Staff Writer / Minnesota Wild
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TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. -- The final day of the 2008 NHL Centre I.C.E. Prospects Tournament in Traverse City was a good one for the young Wild team, as they posted a come-from-behind, 3-2 shootout victory over the host Detroit Red Wings to take third place.

After another well-played game from start to finish, Wild Assistant General Manager/Player Personnel Tom Thompson was pleased with the outcome.

“It was a very good game,” he said. “I would say the overall tempo of the games we were in was as high as any tournament we’ve had here.”

Minnesota opened the scoring 6:08 into the first period with a power-play goal from Scott Wasden. Cody Almond set up Kevin King, who took the initial shot, but the puck never crossed the line as it caught the goal post. The rebound bounced to Wasden, who was there to clean up and give Minnesota the early lead.

Detroit responded with power play goals of its own. In the first period, it was Dick Axelsson scoring from Cory Emmerton and Zack Torquato at 8:17. Then, at 16:33, of the second period Jan Mursak scored with the man advantage to give the Wings the 2-1 lead.

It was the first time in four games Minnesota did not have the lead after two periods, but the deficit did not last long, as Maxim Noreau scored on the power play to tie the game at 1:05. Frederic St. Denis set up Noreau, who was pinching from the blue line. Noreau froze the goalie with a fake and fired it high over the glove to account for his third goal and fourth point of the tournament.

With both teams failing to score in the final minutes of regulation and overtime, the game was decided in the shootout.

Minnesota’s first shooter, Cody Almond, beat goalie Thomas McCollum low to the stick side to take an early 1-0 lead. With goalie Anton Khudobin stopping all four Detroit shooters, Justin Hodgman fired a slap shot from about 30 feet out past McCollum to seal victory for the Wild.

Khudobin made 27 saves on the evening and stopped all four shots he faced in the shootout, a positive way to end a solid showing for the Wild goalies at the tournament.

“We had no complaints with our goaltending throughout the tournament," Thompson said. "It was pretty solid and kept us in the game every time.”

Tournament Notes:

Maxim Noreau (3-1=4) and Cal Clutterbuck (2-2=4) led Minnesota with four points each. ... Colton Gillies did not play against Detroit after experiencing some swelling in his ankle from blocking a shot earlier in the tournament. ... Ryan Graham led the Wild in penalty minutes with 17, including three fighting majors. ... Anton Khudobin finished 2-0, allowing four goals on 56 shots. He had a 1.88 GAA and a .929 save percentage.

More quotes from Thompson:

“The highlight, overall, against some pretty good teams this year, was our team play. We played hard, we played disciplined, and we kept the chances against to a minimum.”

“The one thing that surprised us a bit was the overall strength of our defense as a unit. It was probably a notch better than I expected and I give them full credit for that.”
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