NEW UPDATE 9/19/10:
"Stick Boy" Alex Oliver with the championship trophy
So if you’ve been tuned into the various social networking sites available thru aeros.com, you already know that the Minnesota Wild prospect team has won the 2010 Traverse City NHL Prospects tournament. I have to apologize for the delay in getting my updates out for this year’s tournament, but our schedule was pretty full from the time we landed in Traverse City until arriving back into the Twin Cities today. Here’s a quick recap of the final 3 games for the Wild:
9/12/10 – vs Columbus Blue Jackets
After seeing only one period of Blue Jackets’ first game of the tournament, I knew right away that they would be the most physical team in the division. Wow, I hit the nail right on the head! This game was full of penalties, 30 offenses totaling 74 minutes. Regardless that the Blue Jackets were bigger on paper in comparison to the Wild, our prospects played tough, smart, and most importantly they stood up for each other when things got physical. The Blue Jackets opened up the scoring at 1:38 of the first period, but the Wild would put five unanswered goals from five different players: Palmer, Almond, Spurgeon, Prosser, and Wellman. This game was a great team effort.
9/13/10 – 9/14/10 – Practice Day and Game vs New York Rangers
Monday was a practice day for the Minnesota Wild, which meant there would be some much needed time to relax and enjoy time away from the always-cold Centre I.C.E. arena. Traverse City is a really nice area this time of year as the seasons are starting to change from summer to fall. Benzy, Doug and I went sight seeing along the Old Mission Peninsula that is home to several different local wineries and various orchards/farms. A little fun fact about this peninsula/region is that most people have barns on their property. Yes, I’m referring to the “old school” traditional style barns that you might be thinking about. There is even a Michigan Barn Preservation Network, which extensively researches and helps owners to restore their barns to keep the agricultural heritage alive and strong in this region of the country.
The game against the New York Rangers was another test for the Wild prospects in the department of perseverance and sacrifice. This game was a back and forth battle on the scoreboard, but more importantly on special teams. The Wild have always been a team that prides itself on sacrifice and execution on special teams, this was exactly what our team demonstrated against the Rangers. Multiple players sacrificed their bodies for the greater good of the team in different situations to help move on to the Championship game. The power play was a big contributor putting up three of the five goals for the Wild from Casey Wellman, Jarod Palmer, and Joel Broda. With that being said, the Wild defeated the New York Rangers 5-4, off to the Finals!
9/15/10 - Championship Game Day – vs Detroit Red Wings
Everyone knows how beloved the Red Wings are in the city of Detroit during the NHL regular season and playoffs. This love affair doesn’t stop there, it also engulfs Traverse City for the “future” of the Red Wings during this yearly tournament that serves as a precursor for the opening of NHL training camp for the big club. Every one of the Red Wings prospect games were standing room only at the Centre I.C.E. arena, throw into the mix that everyone working the tournament are avid Wings fans…It’s overwhelming. Despite being slated the home team via the number one overall seed, we were very much the road team in this championship game. A victory to clinch the title is sweet, but it is so much sweeter to beat the hometown heroes in their own tournament.
The 2010 Wild prospect team has been just that, a TEAM. This year’s team captain was Cody Almond, and he served that role very well. Each game saw a different pairing of players donning the “A” on their sweater, but these guys took pride in the reward of wearing the letter. The veteran presence of players with NHL/AHL experience like Cody Almond, Carson McMillan, Nate Prosser, Brandon Buck, Casey Wellman, Chad Rau, Marco Scandella, and Darcy Kuemper, really helped to establish a solid foundation for this year’s prospect team. When the team was down 1-0 after two periods there was not only a sense of hope, but also a strong sense of determination to finish what had been started in this tournament when the puck dropped on Saturday against the Hurricanes. Three unanswered goals in the 3rd period and outstanding goaltending from Matt Hackett, clinched the prospect tournament championship cup for the Wild.
As always, this year’s tournament was a fun experience with a great atmosphere to be a part of each day. I do want to send a quick shout-out to the 2010 NHL Prospect tournament champion stick-boy, Alex Oliver. Alex worked the entire tournament for us and was a tremendous help to the equipment staff and myself everyday. He now has earned his bragging rights as the “Top Stick Boy” among his friends that serve in the same capacity for the other NHL prospect teams. A big thank you goes out to the staff at the Centre I.C.E. arena in Traverse City and the Detroit Red Wings for being such tremendous hosts. This staff worked endless hours making sure that every team had anything and everything that they needed this past week.
Now that I’m settling back into the Holiday Inn in St. Paul, there is another task staring me down…LAUNDRY. I hope to pass along some more photos and extras from both Traverse City camp and the Wild’s main training camp.
Greetings to all of the Houston Aeros and Minnesota Wild fans out there! Today marked the start of the 2010-11 hockey season and the beginning of the Mike Yeo, Darryl Sydor, Brian Wiseman coaching era with the Wild/Aeros organization.
Jody Green here, coming to you from the NHL Prospects Tournament in Traverse City, Michigan. It has been 152 days since the Aeros’ last game on April 11th, quite a lengthy off-season to say the least. The past month has been action packed for the hockey operations staff of the Aeros with renovations to our practice facility in Sugar Land, arrival of the new coaching staff, the addition of Denver Wilson, our new assistant equipment manager (Ryan Martin has joined the Greenville Road Warriors of the ECHL as their head equipment manager), and all of the usual training camp preparations.
The team arrived into Traverse City on Thursday evening after medical examinations and physical fitness testing in St.Paul. Medical examinations were conducted at TRIA orthopaedic center by the outstanding medical staff that takes care of the Minnesota Wild season, starting bright and early at 7:00 AM. The players were then transported back to the Xcel Energy Center to be put through the rigorous testing protocol established by Chris Pietrzak-Wegner, head strength and conditioning coach for the Wild. It was an action packed day, so I was happy to finally arrive at the team hotel after helping the equipment staff of Doug Tretiak (Head Eq. Mgr – Houston Aeros) and Matt Benz (Asst. Eq. Mgr – Minnesota Wild) unload the equipment truck at the Centre Ice arena.
The day that we have been anxiously awaiting has arrived for the Aeros’ (Wild prospects) coaching staff and hockey operations staff. It’s game day versus the defending champion Carolina Hurricanes prospect team. This team defeated the Wild prospects in the championship game of the tournament last season, so needless to say, there are some scores to be settled.
Benzy, Doug and I had our pre-game lunch (breakfast @ 10:30AM) at one of the hidden gems in Traverse City, Ham Bonz. I mentioned this little hometown diner in last year’s blog – it’s just like we remembered it…Outstanding! This helped to re-energize us after an early start to the day, but battling through the onset of a nice food coma took an extra cup of coffee during the pre-game team meeting.
The team had an up-tempo morning skate and looked ready to answer the bell when the puck was dropped to open the annual NHL Centre Ice Prospects Tournament. The Wild jumped out to a dominating 2-0 lead after the 1st period of play. This team makes up for its smaller size with exceptional speed and on-ice skill. The 2nd period wasn’t as enjoyable for the Wild prospects, basically operating in survival mode with allowing Carolina to even up the shot totals and really make their presence known. The coaching staff settled the troops and we held on for a 2-1 victory.
The nice aspect of the game schedule here in Traverse City is that games start as early as 3:00pm and no later than 5:30pm, so there is still some time to unwind and enjoy the awesome weather and have dinner before the usual 10:30pm. Just to rub it in to everyone back in Houston, the morning time temperatures have been in the upper 50’s and the high temperatures top out around the low 70’s with low/no humidity… AMAZING!! The down side to experiencing Michigan weather in September is that most of us on the staff totally forgot to pack anything in the “fall” clothing line since we have been used to the lovely Houston heat and humidity on a daily basis. Luckily, we have plenty of Minnesota Wild swag to hold us over until our return to the Lone Star State.There will be more to come from Traverse City – including photos and game summaries from Sunday’s match-up against the Columbus Blue Jackets.