Well played, Wild
No. 7 Faber scores, Foligno with a ‘baseball move’ goal in win over the Capitals.
ST. PAUL — Seven was the number of the day.
In the baseball world, Tuesday was the much-anticipated announcement of which former Major League Baseball players would be inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame Class of 2024. For Minnesota Twins fans, that meant learning former catcher and St. Paul native, Joe Mauer, received a call for the Hall. Mauer is a first-ballot Hall of Fame player after the Twins already retired his No. 7 at Target Field back in 2019.
A couple of hours after the announcement, another Minnesota native wearing a No. 7 jersey made sports history, too, on the Xcel Energy Center ice sheet in St. Paul. Rookie Minnesota Wild defenseman Brock Faber scored his fourth goal of the season only 1 minute, 37 seconds into the game against the Washington Capitals for a quick 1-0 lead.
“Pretty lucky bounce,” Faber said. “It just kind of landed on my stick. It worked out. That’s always fun when you get bounces like that.”
— Minnesota Wild (@mnwild) January 24, 2024
Not even five minutes into the game, the Wild grabbed a 2-0 lead thanks to a bit of a baseball-looking play from Marcus Foligno. Matt Boldy passed the puck out from along the wall to Foligno in the crease. But the puck went airborne, leaving Foligno to bat it down with his glove before hitting the puck into the net with his stick.
Well played, Marcus.
The Wild players talked Tuesday morning about the possibility of Mauer getting into the Hall of Fame, Foligno said.
“That was perfect – a little baseball move,” Foligno said. “I told the guys, and there was a bet in here, I think last year, we got cocky and said, ‘I can probably catch 10 out of 10 pop flies in the outfield.’ So, there’s a good example right there.
“That’s a cool moment, obviously really happy for Joe (Mauer) and obviously a legend.”
It’s just some fun with numbers, but here’s how the rest of the scoresheet shook out for the Wild when it came to the number seven in what turned out to be a 5-3 Wild victory over Washington:
Faber: No. 7 jersey
Foligno: No. SEVENteen jersey
Marcus Johansson: Scored his 7th goal of the season, assisted by Zach Bogosian for his 7th assist of the season
Joel Eriksson Ek: No. 14 jersey (which is 7+7)
Johansson, again: Nickname is JoJo, and Mauer’s first name is Joe. So there.
The Wild also earned their 21st victory of the season, which is 7×3 and reached forty-SEVEN points for the season
Young rookie leaving his mark in Wild history
Faber, who was playing with the University of Minnesota Gophers last season, has drawn plenty of attention this year for his on-ice play. It’s not just locally, but his name has been thrown around as a possibility for the Calder Memorial Trophy, awarded to the NHL’s top rookie.
Faber sees plenty of ice time, and once again led the Wild with a team-high 24:50 time-on-ice in Tuesday’s game against Washington. His goal was also notable as part of Wild franchise history, extending his active point streak to five games (2 goals, 6 assists for 8 points). It’s the longest scoring streak by a rookie defenseman in Wild history.
The goal also brought his points total for the season to 28 (4 goals, 24 assists). That brought him into good company with two other notable Wild defensemen in the team’s archives. He tied Kurtis Foster (10-18—28 in 2005-06) for the third-most points in a season by a Wild rookie defenseman. Filip Kuba leads the list with 30 points in 2000-01, the team’s inaugural season, and Calen Addison recorded 29 points last season for second on the list.
After the game, a humble Faber said there are pros and cons to the way he’s played, even though he’s getting points lately.
“But I still know that I have to build on my consistency and my decision-making in the D zone,” Faber said. “Which, I’ve been far from perfect defensively the past, this month, really.
“But again, just trying to find that happy medium where I’m jumping in plays where I’m skating, where I have the puck on my stick a lot of the game.”
Wild coach John Hynes has been impressed with Faber’s ability to always be part of the offensive side of the game, and he added that it was nice to see the youngster get rewarded for his efforts on Tuesday.
Being a young player in the NHL, playing on the blue line, is a really hard position to play, Hynes said. Faber has also been put in a position of a top-defensive pairing, due in part to injuries to Wild blue liners like Jared Spurgeon this season.
“His effectiveness, his consistency level has been really impressive,” Hynes said. “So, I think the way that he’s played and the situations that he’s played in, he’s certainly deserving of that type of talk.”
Though Faber didn’t grow up in St. Paul, like Mauer and three other National Baseball Hall of Famers, he’s still a Minnesota native. He’s also earned the respect of his teammates, something he certainly has in common with Mauer.
“First of all, off ice, unbelievable guy,” Foligno said. “He cares about everyone in here. And now to see what he does on the ice, he’s a leader in my mind. He’s definitely a future leader of this team.”