Greetings from my current location at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, Nebraska where my father just got out of mitrovalve repair surgery.
I wish I could say this isn’t an ordinary thing for my family and I, but it is. This is the fourth open-heart surgery for us in 23 years, but the first time I’ve been on this side of things as the first three belong to me. In addition to those, three pacemaker surgeries make for six and I’m in the process of being put on the heart transplant list just about as literally as I type. But working 47 hours a week between two jobs, going to college part time and attempting to keep you all entertained and informed on a daily basis isn’t going to affect that is it? Nah.
Though I couldn’t see any of the action personally, last night was a heckuva night for the Minnesota Wild. Not only did they beat the best of the West (that’s the division-rival Chicago Blackhawks, if you didn’t know) in regulation by a score of 4-3, the Winnipeg Jets lost, the Nashville Predators lost and the Colorado Avalanche lost. Unfortunately, the St. Louis Blues didn’t seem to get the memo, soundly defeating the New York Islanders in a 5-1 contest. However, with the Avalanche getting…well…snowed under by eight Edmonton Oilers goals, Minnesota ending the night securely in possession of third place in the Central Division and sixth in the Western Conference.
Tonight, the Minnesota Wild take on the Blue Jackets in Columbus at 6 p.m. Scott will have your game preview here shortly, and it may already be posted by the time I’m done writing this article. However, the purpose of this particular piece is to announce the selections of Minnesota Wild prospects Gustav Olofsson and Christoph Bertschy to the preliminary 2014 World Junior Hockey Championships roster of their respective countries.
Olofsson, Minnesota’s top selection in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft, is a big 6’3″ 190-pound mobile Swedish blue liner that plays a very smart brand of hockey. Currently playing for the Colorado College Tigers, Olofsson is also the only NCAA player named to Team Sweden’s preliminary roster.
“I was a little overlooked living here so I never got a chance to play for the U17 and U18 teams,” said Olofsson. “This is my last chance to play for my country as an amateur and that makes this a little extra special. Having it in my home country makes it even bigger for me personally.”
Having spent his life between Sweden, California and Colorado, Olofsson has grown up playing both the European and North American styles of play. This will most certainly come as a distinct advantage to him compared to most young Europeans who struggle to adapt to the faster pace of the North America game when turning pro. This could also pay off in a big way in the tournament where the Swedes could be faced with stopping the Canadians and Americans.
“He makes very good decisions with the puck,” said Tigers coach Scott Owens. “He’s also shown good offensive instincts. We use him in all situations. While it is still early, it appears he was a very good draft selection by the Minnesota Wild. The exciting part is he will keep getting better.”
The 2013 46th overall pick spent last season as a rookie with the Green Bay Gamblers, notching two goals and 21 assists for 23 points and a plus-11 rating in the process of being named to the United States Hockey League’s 2013 All-Rookie Team in the very same season his favorite player, Jonas Brodin, would be named to the NHL’s 2013 All-Rookie Team. His exceptional play made him the first USHL player ever drafted by the Minnesota Wild with their top selection. In nine games with the Tigers this season, Olofsson has notched two goals and an assist for three points.
In addition, 2012 sixth round selection Christoph Bertschy has been named to Switzerland’s 2014 WJHC preliminary roster as one of just a few NHL drafted prospects highlighting the list. Playing for Bern of the Swiss League, Bertschy currently has four goals and six assists. Unlike Olofsson, and Mathew Dumba, who will likely be Canada’s go-to defenseman in the upcoming Malmo tournament, Bertschy has a very long road to ever donning a Wild sweater if it’s still even possible at this point. The kid does nothing but dominate against his peers at such tournaments, but–well–does nothing when it comes to playing against men in the Swiss pros.
To date, this may be his biggest claim to fame regarding the Wild organization.
We can expect more of that if Dumba and Bertschy meet again in the World Juniors.
That’s it from me, Dad’s out of surgery and fingers are crossed and prayers said that I’m not next. Wild take on the Blue Jackets tonight, here’s hoping whoever is in net can silence the cannon.