Game One for Your Minnesota Wild


And so it begins. The 2011-2012 NHL season is full on starting this weekend and the Wild opened their campaign with a bang, defeating the Columbus Blue Jackets 4-2. The story was the new-look offense. Now keep in mind Columbus was on the second night of a back-to-back and the Wild had the home opener adrenaline working for them, but you gotta be excited as a Wild fan after this game. The Wild were actually outshot by the Blue Jackets 31-26, but that’s because they went into a shell in the third period, managing only three shots. Through two, they dominated.

New Guys Impact
It didn’t take long to get a glimpse of what could possibly be an exciting year. The Koivu Heatley Setoguchi line started with some jump on the first shift of the game. Later in the first Koivu and Heatley were in on a shorthanded 2-on-1. Koivu to Heatley, Heatley slap shot, fat rebound with Jacket G Steve Mason out of the play, but the puck hopped Koivu’s stick. Early glimpse folks.

Midway through the second and on the PP, Bouchard fed Heatley for a pretty redirection goal from between the circles. Heatley’s first goal in a Wild sweater gave the Wild a 3-0 lead.

Late in the second, Heatley set the table for a Setoguchi one-timer that got through Mason. Wild up 4-1 after two and the offseason moves paying big-time dividends.

It’s the scoring depth that’s the difference. Heater and Seto give the Wild two good scoring lines, instead of just one as has been the norm the last three years.

When everyone keys on the first line, the Bouchard Lattendresse Cullen line will get more opportunities, and that’s exactly what happened on the second shift of the game. Lattendresse sent one from the defensive zone to Bouchard at the opposite blue line, who saucered a pretty one to Cullen behind the D. Cullen roofed a wrister over Mason’s shoulder for a quick 1-0 lead.

If everyone stays healthy and has years you’d expect, this will be a playoff year for our favorite NHL squad.


  • The Wild are now 10-0-1 in season openers in franchise history.
  • Nick Backstrom was good in goal giving up two goals on 31 shots. Not flashy or spectacular, but reliable, just the way the Wild need him to be.
  • Did you see the open on FS North with the player graphics built in to landmarks around the state? Very cool.
  • All due respect to Cal Clutterbuck, but isn’t it nice to not have to depend on him as a major cog in the offense?
  • I liked the kids tonight. Powe, Johnson, and Gilles were quick and spent some good time in the offensive zone, and Scandella and Spurgeon looked good on D. Scandella also scored a PP goal in the first on a mad rush with Spurgeon into the Jackets zone. Scandella’s first NHL goal put the Wild up 2-0. Hopefully that will continue throughout the year.

Wild @ NY Islanders – Monday Oct. 10 12:00 p.m. CST

Touch Em All John Gordon

John Gordon started doing play by play for the Twins in 1987, when I was a wee lad. These were times when people actually listened to sports on the radio, before every game was on TV. I remember listening to Herb Carneal and Gordo on any one of the high-tech Walkmans, boomboxes, and car stereos of my younger days. Twins baseball would pass the time cutting the grass (we had a big yard) and keep us company out on the lake. I was so emotionally involved back then. I’d wear headphones around the house just to listen to a random game and I didn’t care how the season was going. Sometimes I’d keep a scorebook just to practice. Those guys painted all the picture I needed. I guess I’m just as emotionally-vested now, but I listen on my way to or from Target Field or on my iPhone. That’s how I listened to Gordo’s final call last night.

I always preferred Herb growing up, but now I realize that I will miss Gordo’s voice, his ultimately positive outlook on the state of Twins baseball, and his stories that sometimes would take precedence over a ball 2 call. He’s another one of those connections to my younger days that keep slowly fading into memories.


This is a photo I found from the pregame tribute. Dan Gladden gave Gordo a ride around Target Field in a Harley sidecar. Here’s a link to the ceremony if you didn’t get to see it. And here is his final call.

“Touch Em All Kirby Puckett!! Touch Em All Kirby Puckett!!” That call of Kirby’s Game 6 winner in ’91 will forever forever be ingrained in my gourd. So I salute you Gordo. Thanks for the memories.

Another Offseason of Change for the Wild

We’re inching closer and closer to the start of the hockey year, for the second time in three years, the Wild are in a major rebuilding mode.

Mike Yeo takes over the head coaching duties from ousted Todd Richards. Yeo wasn’t exactly the sexy choice for GM Chuck Fletcher; he apparently had Craig McTavish and Ken Hitchcock on his list. It’s a gutsy move brining in a first-time coach for a second time, especially when the first one didn’t work out so great. But one thing is for sure…Mike Yeo is a completely different coach from Todd Richards. Yeo preaches structure and puck control; I’m still not sure what Richards stood for. Yeo is fiery and gets after his players; Richards always had that I don’t know what to do look. And while Yeo sure seems to know his stuff it will be interesting to see if his age (he’s 37) plays into his ability to get his players to buy in. I’m optimistic…I think he’s smart and players will get that, and eventually the Wild will become a tough team to play against.


And then there’s the players. Oh my goodness were things shaken up this offseason. Gone is the uber popular but sometimes enigmatic D Brent Burns, the unhappy F Martin Havlat (and his agent), the potential never-realized F James Sheppard, the terrible D Cam Barker, the grandpa F Owen Nolan, and the revitalized G Jose Theodore. But coming in is potential for something of which the Wild are in desperate need – scoring. F Dany Heatley and F Devin Setoguchi should provide a good portion of that scoring, another important thing it does is gives the Wild two scoring lines. Opposing defenses will need to focus on a Koivu – Heatley – Setoguchi line, which should open up opportunities for a Cullen – Latendresse – Bouchard line. So if they score more goals, then the key is how they make up for the hole Burns leaves on the blueline. They’ll need one of the young kids to step up consistently and surprise us. If that happens, we’ll be ok.


The Wild are again a playoff bubble team this season. It’s generally a bad place to be, because you go into a stretch run trying to make the playoffs, but if you don’t make it, you’re not getting a good draft pick. But there’s a buzz for this squad again, and I’m cool with that. Playoff hockey is the most exciting time of all sports, so whatever it takes to get there in April baby.

An Ode to Mike Modano

The most prolific scorer in American hockey history announced his retirement on Wednesday. Mike Modano made it official via his Facebook page, with a press conference scheduled for Friday.

After the North Stars left in 1993 (and a period of denial), I found myself a Dallas Stars fan. We had no team yet in Minny, so I had to follow someone. We had NHL Center Ice for a few years, and I watched most of their games…including their Stanley Cup run in 1999. I was emotionally involved.

I am a Mike Modano fan, even though most Minnesota hockey fans have or had a strong dislike for him due to his anti-Minnesota statements when the Stars left. My wife is was a big fan as well, although for other reasons. He has pretty white teeth and nice scruffy.

Chances are good this misspelling at the X was done purposefully.

Modo is a polarizing kind of guy. He always has a bit of a cockiness to him and some people don’t like that. He’s the kind of guy you need to take with a grain of salt. But you can’t deny the success he had in his career and what he meant to the NHL. He retires with the most goals ever for an American-born player, won one Stanley Cup and was runner up twice. He is single-handedly responsible for turning Dallas into a pretty successful hockey market. I would have liked to see him finish his career in Dallas, to play his whole career with one team. I also said I would have liked to see him in a Wild sweater last year, but I guess I can’t have it both ways…so he signed with Detroit. His stint as a Red Wing was injury-filled and I’m sure not what he wanted when he decided to play last year, but when you think about his career you’re probably not going to even think of last year, almost like it didn’t happen. I’ll think of him as a Dallas Star or a teeny tiny North Star.

I salute you Mike Modano. I’ll miss the hair in full glory during warmups and the jersey flowing in the wind as you flew by everyone on the ice.

Full Glory

Modo's Hair in Full Glory

Good luck with your golf. We’ll all be following on the Twitter.

Modano's Sendoff at the X

Sendoff at the X

TCF Bank Stadium Offers Real College Football Potential

I’m a relatively casual college football fan. I get into it at the beginning of the year but there’s so much of it that I tend to get burned out by midseason. The fact that there isn’t a competent team in the vicinity to follow probably plays into it too.

I’m talking DI here specifically. Naturally I pay attention to the two-time NCAA DII champion UMD Bulldogs, but that’s tough to do from the Twin Cities.Contrary to what many of my friends think, I want the U of M to be good, in everything except hockey. My allegiance for UMD trumps where I live. But in all the other sports, I consider myself a Gopher fan.

So on Saturday I finally got to my first game at TCF Bank stadium for Gophers v. Miami (Ohio) Redhawks. I don’t own any Gopher fare, so I sported a maroon UMD t-shirt and hat. Hey, at least the color matches. I was excited to experience big-school college football, but wasn’t expecting the kind of atmosphere we saw last weekend for Notre Dame v. Michigan (obviously).


What I found was very comfortable stadium, even without the fancy cushioned seat backs everyone else around us had. We were in the upper level, section 236. The metal bench seating was a bit tough on the back, but there is plenty of legroom between rows. The Bank is aesthetically pretty. We had a nice view of downtown Minneapolis, Williams Arena, and Mariucci (Engelstadt East as my wife calls it). Gopher pride is represented well, with M logos everywhere and acknowledgement of Minnesota’s aging football glory days.


So what of the atmosphere? Best way I can describe it is potential. Again, I’m a guy who hasn’t been to Madison, Michigan, Ohio State, Florida, or even Iowa State. But I got a piece of the college football vibe yesterday. You had a good student section. You had the band. You had a handful of “regular people” in the rest of the crowd that got into the game. There was a guy and a gal in their early 30s who would do the band moves along with them, including the run in place bit – so clearly they were in the band at the U. There was an older couple next to us that got into some of the traditional student cheers, including the “First Down” hand coordination. Luckily, the guy was willing to share the insight from the radio broadcast he was listening to…with everyone.


The missing link was the entire stadium getting into it. Besides the students, there would only be a handful of people getting up for third down plays or getting loud when the Gophers really needed it. So it got loud, but not deafening. I’ll give Gopher fans a bit of a pass given how bad the team has been for so long. But there’s a good vibe around the program with Coach Kill. He appears dedicated to building a program that the people of Minnesota will be proud of. If that happens, I think the Bank could rival a place like Madison. And I have a feeling that’s all it would take for me to become a real college football fan.

Can We Just Put the Twins Down?

Seriously. This season, already ugly, has become a complete embarrassment.

The Twins are 1-9 in their last 10 and are firmly planted in last place in the AL Central.

Defense is terrible, and offense is nonexistent.

Span and Morneau are out probably for the rest of the season, and we just found out that Joe Mauer is shut down for the rest of the year with pneumonia.

The team is apparently mailing in the rest of the season, and I can’t think of a good reason to pay attention. I haven’t watched a game in probably 3 weeks.

Bring on hockey season.


Lazy Sunday at Target Field

Spending a few hours with my Dad at Target Field today for Twins v. Tigers. The Twins are finally playing a decent game, currently leading 7-4 in the 7th inning. Still early for our favorite squad though.

We have Legends Club tickets today, but we never actually made it to our seats. We got here in the middle of the 1st inning and decided watch the first few innings inside at an open drink rail instead of fight through to the middle of the row where our seats were. That was sorta cool – good view of the game through the cleanest windows I’ve ever seen and you can hear the radio play-by-play. (Speaking of radio, consider this my endorsement for Bob Kurtz getting the full time gig next year.) It was pretty dead over on the first base side and pretty quiet inside. Dad and I had some nice conversation while we watched the game.


We decided to walk around a bit, and wound up moseying to some open seats in the Home Run Porch View. Back with me people out here. Out here, you’re in the sun, you get listen to drunk guys converse, and you get the full ballpark experience. (Apparently, out here you also get to see Luke Hughes hit two homeruns…make it 11-4 Twins.)


It’s an interesting vibe in here today. Sort of a “lazy Sunday” I think. No one is going to get out of control giddy about this big lead with the Twins out of it, so The crowd is content in enjoying a beautiful day at the ballpark. (Luke Hughes is killing it today…great diving play at 2B.) Twins fans will likely get through through the last month of the season in this way.

It’s different not being in a playoff run in the month of September, but we can handle it. All our other pro teams have taught us how.

And at least we won’t lose to the Yankees in the first round again.

Playoffs? Nope, but Twins Baseball is Still Fun

Seems like every year before the Twins’ season starts I’ve got big plans to muse about my favorite baseball squad, but then I never post a thing. I think I read too much from the local media that I feel like my takes have already been covered, so why regurgitate?

At any rate, here we are in August, Twins season all but over. Been quite a disappointing year. No one expected the horrid start the boys came with out of the gate, and really, that was their ultimate demise. Although when they closed the gap to 5 games last month I did think #itshappening. Unfortunately they couldn’t keep the pace; now 10 games out and most recently swept by the Chi Sox, #itsclearlynothappening. The Twins are playing lifeless baseball with no offense and error-filled defense. All we’ve got to be excited for as Twins fans is Jim Thome’s run to 600 home runs, the potential that Justin Morneau might come back for the last few weeks of the season and start to regain his swagger, and the daily Will Joe Mauer Catch Today game.

There’s so much negativity to point to this season, but it’s been analyzed to nausea. I’ve still had a good time at Target Field in the handful of games I’ve been to this summer, including Thome’s monstrous home run last month. Here’s some multimedia – courtesy: me…

I mean…cold.
Lots of guys selling beer…
Mauer’s 1st plate appearance after DL
Who doesn’t love Robbie?
Joe Nathan coming in for a save (when they meant something).

Still Frozen Four Dreaming?!?!

So this is a post I wasn’t sure I’d ever be able to write. The University of Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs have FINALLY won their first NCAA hockey national championship, beating the Michigan Wolverines 3-2 in OT. Saturday night ended a long period of inferiority to the Minnesota Gophers, North Dakota Fighting Sioux, and all the other teams that have won a national title.

I wasn’t sure where I was going to go with this. I wasn’t able to be at the championship game at the X, so I missed out on the crazy celebrations other UMD fans have been relishing in for the last few days. But I have my own unique experience that I won’t forget, thanks to technology.

We were in the beautiful twin cities of Fargo/Moorhead Saturday, where I was able to watch the first two periods of the game on ESPN. As the 2nd period ended in a 2-2 tie, it was time to hit the road on the long drive back to the 55313. I was able to pick up a station out of Fargo that had the national broadcast of the game, with Sean Grandy on the play-by-play. Was a pretty good listen actually. But, as we rolled past Fergus Falls, that station began to fail…and I started to panic. So I hooked up the iPhone, started up the Tune In Radio app, fired up 94X out of Duluth, and prayed that we’d stay in range of AT&T’s sporadic cell towers. That prayer was answered just before Alexandria as I heard Bruce Ciskie call Kyle Schmidt’s game-winning goal. And yes, I was able to keep the car on the road and not wake up my daughter sleeping in her car seat. A handful of fist pumps, a shake of my (Sioux-fan) wife, and a big ol’ smile on my face was enough to celebrate the moment.

OF COURSE I had the DVR going, so I watched the OT at about 1:30 Sunday morning. Even though I knew what happened thanks to Ciskie, seeing it happen was magical. I watched it several times that night, and showed a couple times to my wife the next day. To finally see this kind of thing happen to one of MY teams… Travis Oleksuk’s beauty pass from behind the net…Kyle Schmidt driving the net – burying the puck – and subsequent snow angel dive across the ice…Scott Sandelin’s elation…the pile of ugly-haired Bulldogs at one end of the rink…an arena full of Bulldog fans chanting “UMD! UMD! UMD!”…the entire team gathering to take the traditional trophy picture before it was even presented and Clay Matvick still stuck in the middle of the melee…Jack Connolly tearing up with the trophy. What a great night.


Now…even though I couldn’t be at the game and partake in the celebration on the streets of St. Paul, I’ve seen plenty of it thanks to the Twitter. There are a host of Bulldog fans and even media members who took to Twitter, posting pictures and recounts of the good times. This group of Bulldog fans have been invaluable for me being able to celebrate UMD’s first-ever men’s hockey national championship. Big shoutout to @runwiththedogs, @Maroon_Loon, @jimmybellamy, @RoyMahlberg, @UMDPenaltyBox, @bruceciskie, @patesonskates, and @estromgren. Thank you for being there for me, even though I’ve never met any of you. And to Kristie at BBY for the real-time pictures via text. We are united through technology and this unforgettable team.

Now, to order my championship t-shirt…

Frozen Four Daydreamin’

Work is futile today. I’m trying hard to stay focused and push out some productivity, but I’m leaving in just over two hours to get home in time for UMD v. Notre Dame…Frozen Four semifinal #1. I’m rockin’ my circa 1996 UMD jersey at the office today too. Got Bulldogs on the mind. This is MY March Madness. I’m so very jealous of those I know that are going to the X today.

This will be my second time seeing the Dogs in the Frozen Four since I became a UMD fan. In 2006, I was in the same boat, leaving work early to get home in time to see the game. That game turned out to be a heartbreaker, as the Dogs surrendered a 2-goal lead and eventually losing to Denver. That team was in my opinion better than the team playing today, but I’m expecting a win none the less.

While UMD has a touch of Jeckyl and Hyde to them, they really ought to beat Notre Dame. The Irish are very young, and this game is in St. Paul so UMD should have of a home-crowd advantage. G Kenny Reiter was riding a hot streak in the regional games v. Union and Yale. And the team all has blonde hair.

That being said, Reiter needs to stay hot. UMD needs to stay out of the penalty box. They took way too many penalties in the regional and although their penalty kill was awesome, eventually that’ll bite ya. And they need the FCC line to stay at the top of their game.

UMD 4 Notre Dame 3

As for the second semifinal, North Dakota 5 Michigan 2