The WHL preseason kicked off last night and Rink Rat fans were excited to get a glimpse of the new look squad as they played at home against the Nashville Stampede. A couple of Minnesota newbies connected to score the Rink Rat’s first goal half way through the first period. Viktor Stalberg took an outlet pass from Jay McKee to beat off two defenders and Brian Elliott stick side. Stalberg’s line of Matthew Lombardi and Jamal Mayers would combine to score 3 goals in Minnesota’s 5-3 win.
There are plenty of new faces for Minnesota fans to acquaint themselves with before the start of the regular season. Minnesota expects rookies such as Gilbert Brule, Ryan O’Reilly, Viktor Stalberg, David Jones, Kyle Cumiskey and Jimmy Howard to play key roles coming into this season. Some other notable new faces include Dustin Penner, Michal Rozsival, Chris Higgins, Jay McKee and Scott Hannan.
Minnesota coach, Dan Bylsma, has stated that he will play a full lineup for the first 3 games of the preseason, 2 of which are at home against the Stampede and Lunatics. Following those 3 games key starters like Ryan Miller, David Krejci, Derek Roy and others will likely play spot duty to give Minnesota coaches a better idea of who can help support these stars. This will also give coaches and management an opportunity to take a first look at some of the young players that will play in the minors this season or compete for one of the roster spots available. Ryan O’Reilly, TJ Hensick, Casey Wellman, Cam Fowler and Jamie McBain will all have an opportunity to get some minutes this preseason.
Minnesota is rumored to be on the lookout for a wing as the preseason rolls on. They are believed to be willing to part with a good draft pick or move prospects Dustin Jeffrey and/or TJ Hensick. The Rink Rats will continue their preseason tonight against the Waterloo Lunatics. David Krejci, Derek Roy and Jamie Langenbrunner are expected to start.