The Minnesota Wild prospects fell in overtime to the Tampa Bay Lightning, 3-2 on Thursday night at the 2005 NHL Centre I.C.E. Prospects Tournament. The Wild led twice on goals by 2005 first round pick Benoit Pouliot and tryout forward Riley Merkley. A.J. Thelen, the Wild’s first round pick in 2004, picked up an assist on both goals. The Wild squad fell to 0-3 for the tournament and have one game remaining on Saturday night against Atlanta. As he is known to do, Wild Assistant General Manager/Player Personnel Tom Thompson gave his expert opinion on what transpired between the Wild and Lightning.
On Last Night’s Game
Last night’s game was very encouraging. It was by far our best game of the tournament thus far. They tied it on us late in the game on a real strange goal. They passed the puck across the point and it was bouncing. The point man swatted at the bouncing puck and it was like a knuckle ball that got past our goalie, Miro Kopriva, who actually played very well. But that one handcuffed him.
Even with a couple minutes to go in the game, Patrick O’Sullivan came down alone and absolutely froze the goaltender, but put the puck off the crossbar and over the glass. That’s the way it goes sometimes.
We worked as a team and there was a real fast pace to the game. There were a few too many penalties called for my liking, but that’s how it’s going to be this year.
If we replayed that game with the same chances, I think we’d win but that’s what it’s like in hockey and I certainly drew a lot of positives from it.
The Wild Goals
Benoit Pouliot played very well and he got our first goal of the game. He came in from the off wing and shot one in high off of the crossbar.
The second goal put us up 2-1, and that came from Riley Merkley. Kevin Henderson, another tryout player, drove to the net and got a shot on goal. The rebound came out and Merkley put it in.
The Wild Standouts
Seriously, it was a real team effort. I can’t pick out one guy that stood out because I can’t pick one guy that played poorly. We worked hard.
On Today’s Off Day
We won’t do anything different. We’ve got an hour and a half of ice so we’ll treat today more like a normal practice since there is no game tonight. These guys didn’t have a rookie camp in Breezy Point this year so they’re still getting used to each other and that’s what this practice will help with. Tomorrow’s the last day of the tournament and we’ll try and finish on a positive note. It’s certainly been a positive week so far.