2013 Traverse City Roundup
Posted by Nathan Wells on Monday, September 09, 2013
It's probably for the best we didn't go out Traverse City this year.
With a 5-2 loss to the New York Rangers today, Minnesota's ragtag crew of prospects and invitees heeded the advice of Ricky Bobby and finished in eighth place out of eight teams. The Minnesota Wild completed the four-game prospects tournament with a 0-2-2 record. They were the only winless team. Prior to today's game, the Wild lost to Detroit 3-1, St. Louis 3-2 in overtime and Dallas 2-1 in a shootout.
The host Red Wings won the 2013 Traverse City title; defeating Buffalo 4-2.
Today's loss is frustrating more with how things went down than the actual score. The Wild took a 2-0 lead on goals by invitees Carter Sandlak and Miles Koules. After that, the wheels fell off as New York scored five unanswered; including three in 59 seconds.
Things were so bad that one person there described the third period to me as one giant turnover fest where Minnesota almost scored on its own goalie (Alexandre Belanger) a few times.
Finishing last is a big step down from the 2011 version that finished fifth. That team was missing plenty of top prospects as well, however, the difference between two years ago and this year is having older AHL guys like Chay Genoway, Kris Foucault and Justin Fontaine. There weren't as many this year. The squad was evenly split between drafted players and invitees, which isn't a great recipe for success.
Despite not being first, a couple players can take solace in their Traverse City play. Raphael Bussieres scored two goals in four games while Johan Gustafsson had a .929 save percentage in three games. His best performance was making 41 of 42 saves Sunday against Dallas before falling in the shootout.
Sandlak fought a bunch.
For 15 players from the Traverse City team, they get the chance to make an impact at the big kids table. Besides Bussieres and Gustafsson, Brett Bulmer, Erik Haula, Dylan Labbe, 2011 first round pick Zack Phillips and 2012 first round pick Mathew Dumba (who didn't play in today's finale) were all added to the training camp roster.
(Fans can watch Saturday's practice session beginning at 9:30 a.m. at the Xcel Energy Center. There is also an intrasquad scrimmage on Sunday at the Xcel beginning at 11:00 a.m.)
I wish we had more like lines and highlights and that stuff, but we don't this time around. It's hard to do any analysis when no one streams or shows the games from Traverse City. It isn't like the NHL Network takes two months off and only shows old playoff games.