Wild Players Eye Olympic Hockey Semifinals
The Lighthouse brings you a late post thanks to Snowmageddon, as we were busy stockpiling supplies like a Doomsday Prepper, gathering provisions for tomorrow’s Olympic semifinal matchups. Now that we’re comfortably loaded with frozen pizzas and plenty of thirst quenching icy beverages, we’re ready to sit down and write.
The Wild skated for the second straight day at Braemar Arena in Edina this morning. Of course, like the Lighthouse, the players and coaching staff were keen on tomorrow’s semifinal Olympic hockey matchups. In fact, Wild Head Coach Mike Yeo moved tomorrow’s practice up half an hour so that the coaches would be able to catch the opening puck drop between Team USA and Canada at 11 a.m. State of Hockey Time on NBC Sports Network.
“We’re obviously going to have a close eye on that game for Zach (Parise) and Sutes (Ryan Suter),” Yeo said.
When asked if he’d watch the game with his players, Yeo joked, “They’re going to have a workout afterwards, and coaches don’t have to work out afterwards.”
For the players, as expected, they’ll be pulling for their home countries. With a roster as diverse as Minnesota’s there are some bragging rights on the line between countries left standing.
“We plan on getting together for it and I’m sure there is going to be a lot of trash talking during the game,” Wild defenseman and proud American Nate Prosser said.
While Prosser can easily root for his Wild teammates on Team USA, Parise and Suter, it will be tougher for the Canadian contingent to pull for their American mates.
“Sometimes it’s hard (to decide) who to root for because your watching guys that you either know or have played with on both teams,” Clayton Stoner said. “I haven’t watched all the games, but I’ve been trying to focus on Finland, the U.S. and Canada because that’s where our boys are at.”
But when push comes to shove, it’s not a surprise which squad Stoner is pulling for tomorrow.
“I’ve got to root for my home country of Canada,” Stoner said.
A rivalry that might be even more heated than the American/Canadian contest is the earlier game between Sweden and Finland. For Jonas Brodin, who was left of Sweden’s roster, he’ll be getting up early to watch the contest. While he disappointingly isn’t representing his country, he is still rooting for the Swedes.
“It’s going to be a fun game tomorrow,” Brodin said. “Everyone (in Sweden) is really excited.”
When asked if he would feel bad about rooting against his Wild teammate Mikael Granlund, Brodin cracked a smile and said, “No, I don’t think so.” He hopes he plays well, but not well enough to lift the Finns past his home country.
While hockey is has been their main focus, the players have also kept watch on other sports. Brodin said the most popular sport in Sweden outside of hockey is cross-country skiing. Meanwhile, some like a little faster pace and a bit of danger.
“I’ve been watching a little bit of the bobsled and the skeleton,” Prosser said. “I think it’s just amazing how they’re going down head first at 80 miles an hour on a sled.
“You hit the wall at all and it could be fatal. It’s crazy.”
While they might take small glimpses into other sports their main focus will be on the rest of the hockey tournament.
“It’s been great hockey,” Stoner said. “The U.S. has been great and Canada has looked good, so I’m looking forward to that game and that’s the big one everyone has been waiting for.”
“Then obviously the Gold-Medal Game is going to be an intense one.”
Scandella and Zucker Updates
Jason Zucker will be off the ice for another week while he recovers from a minor procedure. Marco Scandella is ready to get on the ice, but will skate alone for now until he’s ready to rejoin the team, which Yeo believes will be some time next week.