Austin set to go Wild

Published 12:00 am Monday, June 23, 2003

The Austin Youth Hockey Association will be getting a boost from the Minnesota Wild.

Rookie Pierre-Marc Bouchard and a pair of former Minnesota North Stars will be making their way into Austin on Thursday as a part of the Minnesota Wild's 2003 Wells Fargo Road Tour. This is the tour's first visit to Austin in the Wild's three-year existence.

"We're very fortunate to be able to have a tour with some professional athletes on it," said Austin Wells Fargo president Todd Thompson, "especially after the successful year the Wild had."

Email newsletter signup

The Wild qualified for the National Hockey League playoffs for the first time in team history as the sixth-seed out of the Western Conference, losing in four games to eventual Stanley Cup runner-up Anaheim in the conference finals. Head coach Jacques Lemaire was honored with the Jack Adams Award, given annually to the league's outstanding coach. The Wild went 42-29-10-1 for a franchise-record 95 points in just its third season.

The parking lot to the west of the Austin Wells Fargo branch will be the site of the Wild Road Tour, which kicks off Thursday at 3:30 p.m. The Austin Youth Hockey Association will be at the event, raffling off Wild prizes, including such items as team hockey sticks and pucks. Food and drink will be available for sale, with a silent auction, a dunk tank and a hockey skills event going on as well.

"Hopefully this should generate a lot of interest," said Thompson, who is also the AYHA treasurer. "We hope, with the Wild's help, to raise some money for youth hockey."

The Wild Road Tour lends itself to youth hockey organizations throughout Minnesota for four days (June 25-28) to help local programs raise funds. A trio of well-known names will make their way to Austin later this week to do their part.

Bouchard will be joined by former North Stars Neal Broten and Tom Reid. Broten, a Roseau native, spent 13 years with the North Stars before the team moved to Dallas in 1993, and was the first to score a goal for the current Stars franchise. This year was the first for Reid as a Wild radio broadcaster.

All three will be available to sign autographs, and fans can also have photos taken with the Wild representatives.

"We've got a good thing going on," said AYHA president Dean Roberts. "It's a pretty special deal."

Bouchard, a 19-year-old rookie center, scored 20 points (7 goals/13 assists) in 50 games in his first year with the Wild. He was the team's first-round pick in 2002 NHL Entry Draft, going eighth overall.

Broten became a Minnesota hockey hero after scoring the Gophers' game-winning goal in the NCAA finals in 1981. He later became the first-ever U.S. born player to score over 100 points in the NHL, where he spent 17 seasons.

Reid was a defenseman for the North Stars from 1968-78, and most recently worked as a television analyst for University of Minnesota games and the Minnesota state high school tournament.

Other Wild team members Pascal Dupuis, Manny Fernandez, Jason Marshall and Nick Schultz will also be a part of the Road Tour this year.