Minnesota Wild: Prospects Finish in Traverse City with Win Against Blackhawks

DALLAS, TX - JUNE 23: Alexander Khovanov greets his team after being selected 86th overall by the Minnesota Wild during the 2018 NHL Draft at American Airlines Center on June 23, 2018 in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Brian Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images)
DALLAS, TX - JUNE 23: Alexander Khovanov greets his team after being selected 86th overall by the Minnesota Wild during the 2018 NHL Draft at American Airlines Center on June 23, 2018 in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Brian Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images) /

The Minnesota Wild jumped out to a 3-0 lead over the Chicago Blackhawks in Traverse City, and held on through a rough third period to secure a third place finish in the tournament.

Chicago tried valiantly to battle back in the third period, but the MInnesota Wild led by goaltender Dereck Baribeau battled hard to secure the 3-2 final score. The Wild finished the tournament with a 3-1 record. Today we’re going to look at the tournament as a whole, but first I’ll recap the key events from yesterday.

The Wild jumped out to an early lead, just a couple minutes into the first, when the Pilon twins (Drake and Darian) worked some twin magic along with linemate Mitch McLain. There some some slick passing involved on the rush before before Darian managed to slip a shot through the pile up in front of the net for his first point of the tournament.

Just under 7 minutes later, Mathieu Foget picked up a rebound off a shot from Louie Belpedio and fired a shot through a crowd that ended up being tipped in by Alexander Khovanov to make it 2-0. The Pilon twins weren’t done, as Drake worked hard to draw everyone to him and then found McLain with a wide open net to shoot at midway through the 2nd.

Chicago fought hard to come back, twice managing to beat Baribeau in the 3rd period. Baribeau shut the door when it mattered and held on to get his first win in 4 starts at Traverse City, through last year’s tournament.


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Jordan Greenway was the clear standout in the tournament, and only played in 2 games. Minnesota WIld management were so impressed with his play through 2 games that he was given the next 2 off. I speculated if the team played well because of him, but they proved there is more to these prospects than just one player.

Gerry Fitzgerald was the surprise of the tournament. He played on the top line in all 4 games, and his line produced no matter his linemates. He finished the tournament with a team leading 5 points (2G, 3A) and looks to build on this for the season in Iowa. I’m looking for big things from the former child movie star.

Ivan Lodnia sat out game 4, along with Greenway and Connor Dewar, but Lodnia was the other top line player putting up consistent points. After a questionable Game 1 performance he won me over by being a consistent playmaker the rest of the way. He finished with 4 points (1G, 3A) and is someone to expect to see a shot at a Minnesota roster spot in the next couple years.

Dmitri Sokolov made a name for himself in Traverse City. He impressed me right from the start with his poise and control along the side boards during the powerplay, but he did even more to win me over by being just as capable during the breakout and on broken plays, finding goals in each of the first 3 games. He’s increased his value in this tournament, and could be a solid contributor for Iowa this year

Mason Shaw recovered well from last year’s injury. Belpedio played big and tough, playing in all 4 games and making no glaring mistakes. Brennan Menell played on both sides of the defense and looked capable of the pro game.

Kaapo Kahkonen went 2-0 in 2 starts, and despite a low GAA (2.89) I would think he is in line for a lot of starts this season in Iowa. Given the lack of goaltending depth in the Wild organization right now, I’d think a 50/50 split in Iowa between Kahkonen and Andrew Hammond is the likely outcome.

Of the players set to be a part of the Iowa team this fall, there appears to be a common theme coming out of this tournament. These players aren’t dynamic goal scorers, they aren’t superstar playmakers or even likely NHL All-stars, but they all have a sense of grit and determination that leads to them playing with that edge.

I wouldn’t expect Iowa to be blowing teams away in the coming year, but they should be able to keep every game close if they play like this. They had 16 different players contribute at least one point, 10 different players scored at least one of the team’s 14 total goals in this tourney.

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If the Minnesota Wild want to find a top line high flying goal-scorer, they may have to look over to Russia. What they will find in Iowa, after seeing this tournament, is the kind of guys that bring heart and soul to the team. The bottom line guys that can chip in at any level, but bring the energy and get the fans pumped up during the game.

It’s been a great tournament to cover, congrats to the Columbus Blue Jackets for a big 7-3 win over the host Detroit Red Wings in the 1st place game. NHL Training Camp opens Friday, the first preseason game will be Monday.