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Zucker Paces Team Green

by Mike Doyle / Minnesota Wild

After a slow start at Xcel Energy Center, the Houston Aeros Training Camp scrimmage, presented by Andersen Windows, provided a glimpse of what has made the Minnesota Wild’s prospect pool so intriguing. Split into Team Green and Team Red, it was the Green, and one player in particular, delivering the first indicator of how exciting the Aeros can be this season.

Jason Zucker scored two goals leading Green to a 2-0 victory over the Red squad. On both goals, the forward was the recipient of two excellent passes, but Zucker finished off both plays with the skill Wild fans were treated to at the end of last season.

With the first half of the scrimmage winding down, Zack Phillips wound it up, cutting across the blue line and slid the puck to his left to Mikael Granlund. The Finnish forward held the puck and Phillips drove the net. That opened up just enough space on the ice, and that’s where Granlund excels. The Wild’s 2010 first-round pick drew a defender towards him and fed Jason Zucker in the slot. The University of Denver product slammed home a one-timer into the back of the net.

Midway through the game’s second half the Las Vegas, Nevada resident was streaking up the middle of the ice as Charlie Coyle laid a precision saucer pass directly onto his tape. Zucker then split two defensemen, composed the rolling puck, pulled it to his backhand and proceeded to roof the it into the top right corner of the net.

With new players attempting to gain some chemistry, while also learning a new system, the game was sluggish until late in the first half. Once the players found their ice legs, the physical play and the pace picked up. Steven Kampfer stepped into Nick Petersen and delivered a solid open ice check in the second half, which seemed to spark both benches.

In net, Darcy Kuemper played all 50 minutes of the scrimmage for Team Green, while Matt Hackett split time with Curry for Team Red. Kuemper was the less tested out of the three goaltenders, but made key saves in the victory. Red made a final push, pulling Curry for an extra attacker with two minutes left, but Green held steadfast with Keumper pitching a shutout in regulation.

After the two 25 minute halves, each player had a chance to showcase their shootout moves. Green took the shootout, 7-6, which went into sudden death, and again Zucker was the hero. Also scoring shootout goals for Team Green was Carson McMillan, Justin Fontaine, Drew Bagnall, Kyle Medvec and Colton Jobke. Shootout goal scores for Team Red: Chad Rau, Kris Foucault, Brett Bulmer, Marco Scandella and Chay Genoway.

The Aeros will host its second training camp scrimmage, presented by Andersen Windows, tomorrow at 10 a.m., at Xcel Energy Center, with Gate One opening a half hour before start time. Fans that bring used gear to donate for the Used Hockey Equipment Drive will be entered to win autographed Aeros merchandise. Five items will be given away, including a signed Marco Scandella. If fans can’t make the scrimmage, again will host a live stream with Kevin Falness, Wild radio host, Mike Greenlay, Wild television commentator Wes Walz, Wild television analyst.

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