Minnesota Wild: WCHA alums watching Final Five closely
Mar 22, 2013 (Menafn - Pioneer Press - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --Wild players Tom Gilbert, Dany Heatley and Ryan Suter are paying close attention to the WCHA Final Five going on this weekend at the Xcel Energy Center, as are Matt Cullen, Nate Prosser, Zach Parise and assistant coach Darby Hendrickson.
All played in the WCHA and all were chirping at guys who played for opposition teams before and after Wild practice Friday, March 22, at the X.
"It's fun," said Cullen, who played college hockey at St. Cloud State. "One of the coolest parts about playing here in Minnesota is you get to see this, you get to see the state tourney. They are some pretty cool experiences. It's fun to see the looks on the guys' faces when they see a full house here for college hockey, high school hockey."
Cullen's Huskies tied Minnesota for the WCHA regular-season title and he could not resist mentioning Parise's chagrin after Parise's North Dakota team lost Thursday night.
With St. Cloud about to take on Wisconsin just 90 minutes after the Wild practice, Cullen said it would be fun to see ex-Badgers Gilbert, Heatley and Suter "with their lips hanging tomorrow."
Gilbert took in Wisconsin's quarterfinal victory on Thursday and said he was hoping to wager with Parise over a North Dakota-Wisconsin meeting.
"Unfortunately, his team lost out yesterday," Gilbert said with a chuckle. "Pross is still in it. Darbs is still in it. That's going to be a good match-up, too."
A Colorado College alum, Prosser pointed out that the Tigers, who were scheduled
to play Hendrickson's former Gophers team in the nightcap Friday, had to come back after losing the opener of a best-of-three conference playoff series to Denver just to reach the Final Five.
"They're playing well," he said. "They've got a horseshoe going right now."
Wild coach Mike Yeo talked about the atmosphere in the building heading into the WCHA semifinal games and the smiles on the faces of guys who played in the WCHA tournament as collegians.
"Obviously there's a lot of pride in their school and great memories for those guys," he said. "Any chance that they get to give each other a hard time, I'm sure they're going to take advantage of it."
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