Everything was abuzz Thursday as the Wild quickly approached the season-opening puck drop.Hockey had returned to Minnesota for another year and the Wild put on a strong showing before falling in a shootout loss to the Kings 3-2. Watching it all from the stands was Mathew Dumba.
The 2012 first round draft pick had a good camp and survived all the cuts to make the 23-man roster, but jitters during practice leading up to Thursday earned him a healthy scratch on opening night. But just two days later he’ll finally make his debut in front of the Xcel Energy Center crowd and his parents, who are in town.
When he met with the media after morning skate, Dumba couldn’t help but smile through all the questions — fielding everything from how he feels, what veterans have offered advice to who his favorite players were growing up. You can find some of the answers to those questions here.
Head Coach Mike Yeo told Dumba he’d be in the lineup Friday night. Yeo said he’s excited to see how the young defenseman performs, especially with a new level of intensity and pace of play.
Dumba will be skating with veteran Keith Ballard, who logged his first minutes with his home-state team Thursday, which included an early bout with the Kings’ Colin Fraser resulting in a few stitches for Ballard. Yeo said he plans to get the pair in there early, to get Dumba in the feel of the game.
“I think it’s important that we show the faith and confidence in him to get him out there and get him involved in the game,” Yeo said.
When asked what Dumba did to earn the opportunity, Yeo replied with a simple, “he played really well.”
In other notes from practice Charlie Coyle looked focused this morning, netting a few nice goals on line rushes and a one-on-one drill. Coyle had a strong game Thursday but a key mistake in the defensive zone led to the Kings second goal. Coyle fully accepted the blame for the goal, a move Yeo said is the kind of accountability he likes to see.
Fans going to the game can head over early and enjoy a pregame party outside Xcel Energy Center. There will be live music, food and beverages, face painting, games, plenty of photo opportunities as well as time to stop b the Hockey Lodge to gear up for the season.
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