It’s official. The NHL Centre I.C.E. Prospects Tournament began this afternoon, which means that Wild.com is set to embark on its wall-to-wall 2007 preseason coverage.
Minnesota Assistant General Manager Tom Thompson made the trip to Traverse City, Mich., and will supply the State of Hockey faithful with plenty of eyewitness insight on 24 future Wild hopefuls participating in the four-day event (Sept. 7-11). So, let’s dive right into a recap of Friday’s on-ice happenings.
A pair of Wild prospects -- forwards Moises Gutierrez and Cal Clutterbuck
-- each scored twice in a 5-1 victory over the Dallas Stars.
Gutierrez recorded both of his markers, the first of which came on the power play, in the opening 20:00 minutes of play as the Wild took a 2-0 lead after the first period. Lined up with the likes of Matt Kassian
and Morten Madsen during his scoring spree, Gutierrez was assisted by Madsen on both tallies. Not a bad way to start a tryout with the Wild for Gutierrez, a right winger that recorded 55 points (35-20=55) in 61 games with Everett of the Western Hockey League in 2006-07.
Speaking of Everett players, it didn’t take long for center Ondrej Fiala, who is recovering from a third round of knee surgery, to receive notice from Thompson.
“We were very pleased with Ondrej today,” Thompson said of Fiala, who was selected by Minnesota in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft and posted 33 points (12-21=33) in 39 games for Everett last season. “Clearly anyone skating at the level he was would not be experiencing any significant problems with one of his knees.”
Clutterbuck made the score 3-1 after heading into the final period of regulation with a second period shorthanded effort. Former University of Minnesota standout Danny Irmen opened the third with a goal of his own and Clutterbuck struck for the second time midway through the third period on the power play.
Miroslav Kopriva made 26 saves in net for Minnesota and gave up one goal.
“The only goal [the Stars] got was flukey,” Thompson said. “The puck came in funny on Miroslav and took a weird bounce off his shoulder."
The match-up with Dallas also marked the first chance newly-appointed Houston Aeros head coach Kevin Constantine got to work with his assistants, Luke Strand and Troy Ward, in a game situation.
“I knew the coaching staff would be well prepared and well organized,” Thompson said. “I really liked watching how they interacted with players who were returning to the bench from their shifts.”
Thompson will get another chance to watch the team in action on Saturday (Sept. 8) when the Wild (1-0) collide with the Columbus Blue Jackets (0-1). Opening face-off is set for 2 p.m. (CST).
For more, check out NHL.com's Prospect Tournament live blog