Cue CBS Sports March Madness music.
Welcome, Wild fans, to the Minnesota Wild Madness first round recap! I’m your host, Kyle Hattrick (@minngolf on Twitter). The first round had some amazing results, so let’s jump right in to the action:
“Chalk” was the word of the day, as each top seed cruised easily to a first-round win. Top seeds Marian Gaborik and Pierre-Marc Bouchard won with voting percentages in the 90s over Owen Nolan and Todd White, respectively. The closest matchup was No. 4 seed Matt Cullen over 13th-ranked Darby Hendrickson 71% to 29%, showing just how dominant the top seeds were in the first round. This sets up some great second round matchups, between Brian Rolston and Cullen, and Wes Walz versus Andrew Brunette.
The more contemporary divison had some of the closest results, one of the biggest runaway victories and the most shocking upset of the tournament so far:
WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON HERE pic.twitter.com/qGFe3MeIPt— Ryan Quigley (@TheRyanQuigley) March 31, 2020
No. 3 seed Jason Pominville fell to No. 14 Ryan Donato in a surprise barnburner. The two were separated by less than a percentage point in the early voting before Donato squeaked out a 53-47 victory. The 8/9 battle between Charlie Coyle and Joel Eriksson Ek was similarily close early on, though the former Wild and current Bruin was able to pull away late for the win. The battle of 7 and 10 seeds Kevin Fiala and Mats Zuccarello was not nearly as close, as Fiala jumped out to a 100-0 lead through first 50 votes and never looked back, winning by a 95-point margin. The second round has some great matchups in the round-of-32, but the most intriguing looks to be the red-hot Fiala taking on the No. 2 seed Zach Parise.
No big surprises in the defensive division, with No. 9 seed Willie Mitchell the only one to pull an upset over 8 seed Marek Zidlicky. Marco Scandella made it close in the waning hours of the contest, but Nick Schultz held on in the battle of former Wild defensemen. Ryan Suter, Brent Burns and Jared Spurgeon — who easily routed Martin Skoula with 98.1% of the vote — look to continue their strong showings in the second round, while the matchup between the solid defense of Jonas Brodin and the high-powered shooting of Matt Dumba will be an interesting matchup to watch.
We saw a couple of upsets in the Grit and Goalies division, as No. 12 Marcus Foligno took down No. 5 Kyle Brodziak and No. 9 Chris Stewart moved on against No. 8 Stephane Veilleux. But the most exciting matchup was between No. 10 Josh Harding and No. 7 Dwayne Roloson, who were deadlocked at 50/50 with over 400 votes cast and under an hour to go. Eventually, Roloson won victory at the buzzer by a single vote, drawing top netminder and No. 2 seed Niklas Backstrom in the second round. As for the tough guys, Stewart goes on to take on top seed Derek Boogaard, while Foligno tries to keep his run to the Sweet 16 going by getting by fourth-seeded Cal Clutterbuck.
So, after an exciting first day of voting, here are the matchups for the next 24 hours:
Check out our Twitter for the second round pairings and voting thread!