I made what has become an annual pilgrimage to St. Paul, Minnesota Tuesday, to see my Pittsburgh Penguins take on the home team Minnesota Wild.
Last year, the game took place with just a few
weeks left in the season. It was a disappointment, to say the least,
with the Wild winning 4-0. It was a pretty bad blowout, and what it came
down to, was that you had one team (Wild) playing like a team fighting
for a playoff spot, and the other team (Penguins) playing like a team
who was already in.
This year would be different,
though, as it was early enough in the year that both teams would be
fighting to prove their worth. Not only that, but both teams came in as
two of the hottest teams in the league, which should give us quite a
It was another decisive victory, but
this time with the Penguins coming out on top with a 4-1 victory. Goals
were scored by Nick Spaling, Brandon Sutter, Chris Kunitz, and Patric
Hornqvist, as well as the Wild's lone goal being scored by Nino
Niederreiter. Once again, Pittsburgh went with their backup goaltender
when visiting the "State of Hockey," but Thomas Griess was spectacular,
stopping 33 of 34 shots.
Also at the game, the
Minnesota Wild Foundation was holding a fundraiser, where for $40, fans
could get their hands on a "Mystery Puck," wrapped in gold foil to conceal the identity of the signing player, autographed by one of the
Wild players. Last year, 10 players signed pucks, and I got Mikael
Granlund, Jason Pominville, and Jared Spurgeon. This year, that number was increased to 12, with autographs from Jonas Brodin, Matt Cooke, Charlie Coyle, Mikael
Granlund, Erik Haula, Mikko Koivu, Nino Niederreiter, Darcy Kuemper,
Zach Parise, Jason Pominville, Ryan Suter and Thomas Vanek. Now last year, I got Pominville and Granlund, and this past summer, I got a puck signed by Cooke, so I had a 25% chance of getting someone that I already have.
Well, the odds were in my favor, as I got a new player, and a pretty good one, too, in Thomas Vanek.
The puck is one specially designed for this promotion, which is raising money for the Minnesota Wild Foundation. The organization raised money to support various pediatric medical causes throughout the state, so even if you didn't get your favorite player, you knew your money was going to a good place. I actually don't mind the design, as it gives a good window for the player to sign, making the signature more visible. Last year's pucks were just a team logo in the middle, with the player signing wherever they decided to scribble. The other nice thing, is that it specifies the season, so that way, if I pull a Vanek again next year, at least there's a slight difference in the two.