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Wild get into Olympic spirit at St. Paul Curling Club

There’s a wide range of curling experience on the Wild roster and the results spoke for themselves.

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Minnesota Wild teammates Nico Sturm, from left, Kirill Kaprizov, Dmitry Kulikov, Mats Zuccarello, and Nick Bjugstad partake in a team building activity at the St. Paul Curling Club on Thursday, Feb. 10, 2022.
Courtesy of Dan Myers / Minnesota Wild
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ST. PAUL — With a few days off before a sprint to the finish line — 40 games in 77 days, to be exact — the Minnesota Wild took some time away from the hockey rink Thursday.

Albeit in favor of another ice surface.

After a rather intense practice on Thursday morning, the Wild reconvened at the St. Paul Curling Club for some friendly competition. It was a chance for players, coaches and support staff alike to try their hand the Olympic sport that seems to be rapidly growing around the Twin Cities.

“It was a nice deviation from our regular routine,” coach Dean Evason said. “It’s nice to do a team-building thing. We had a practice plus that, and still got the guys home to their families early. We had a blast. We look forward to going back and doing it again.”

There’s a wide range of curling experience on the Wild roster, and the results spoke for themselves.

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While veteran defenseman Alex Goligoski has dabbled at the Itasca Curling Club in his hometown of Grand Rapids, hulking winger Jordan Greenway had never thrown a rock in his life. The contrast between Goligoski and Greenway was a microcosm of the rest of the team.

“I thought Greener was actually pretty good,” Goligoski said with a laugh. “Maybe not the best form. But he was getting the job done.”

Not exactly how Greenway would assess himself.

“There’s a lot of finesse in there and I don’t have a lot of that in my game,” Greenway said. “I didn’t do very well.”

Nobody did very well. That was kind of the point.

“They still competed their butts off,” Evason said with a smile. “We were looking over and they were yelling and competing. It was nice to do something like that away from the rink and still have that team feel.”

Asked about his personal experience with the Olympic sport, Evason talked about how he used to play as a kid growing up in Manitoba. They used to fill big tin pails with cement, stick a handle on the top, and wait for it to harden.

Luckily for the Wild, they got to use the more traditional rocks at the St. Paul Curling Club.

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“It’s always nice getting away from the rink with everybody,” Goligoski said. “It was a really good day. It’s a pretty crammed schedule coming up, so it was nice to have a couple of days to refresh, then get ready for this last stretch here.”

“It gets pretty intense here pretty soon,” Greenway said of the Wild’s jam-packed schedule of games. “It’s good that we can just have some down time and get together with the guys and do some of those team activities. Obviously we’re not going to have much time to do that moving forward.”

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