Former Gopher Rem Pitlick makes memorable, roller-coaster debut with Wild

·3 min read

Oct. 28—Rem Pitlick was "freaking out" in the penalty box Tuesday night at Rogers Arena in Vancouver. The 24-year-old Wild winger knew he wasn't exactly making a good first impression.

His hooking minor midway through the game came after coach Dean Evason held a team meeting that focused on staying out of the penalty box. The analytics showed the Wild were taking more penalties per minute than every team in the NHL.

"I was trying to take a couple deep of breaths," said Pitlick, a former Gophers star who was making his Wild debut after being claimed off waivers late in training camp. "It did not feel good in there."

Fortunately for Pitlick, his teammates picked him up on the penalty kill, and as soon as he hopped back onto the ice, he found the puck on his stick for a clean breakaway the other way. He to put a marvelous move on Canucks goaltender Thatcher Demko only to fire his shot attempt off the post.

Poor Rem Pitlick

— Spoked Z (@SpokedZ) October 27, 2021

"I would never say that extra reps would have a negative side to it," said Pitlick, who didn't join the Wild until Oct. 6 after being reassigned to the minors by the Nashville Predators. "But I think that's what caused it. I've practiced that move so many times, it's just like unconscious."

In other words, Pitlick probably converts that move 99 times out of 100, especially even he beats the goaltender as cleanly as he did this time. Not on this particular night.

"I don't know," he said. "I just hit the pipe. It was a wide-open net. How do I miss that?"

In the end, Pitlick redeemed himself, delivering a perfect pass to defenseman Matt Dumba, who hammered home the game-winner in the Wild's 3-2 victory over the Canucks.

Rem Pitlick's first point with Minnesota is a sick little baby saucer to Matt Dumba and it's 3-1 #mnwild

— Spoked Z (@SpokedZ) October 27, 2021

"It was a pretty saucy pass," Dumba said. "It was kind of easy to cash. He played well tonight."

That capped off an eventful game for Pitlick in which he experienced a full palette of emotions, to say the least. From watching helplessly in the penalty box, to assisting on the game-winner, Pitlick won't soon forget his Wild debut.

"You definitely want to contribute a little bit to feel like a part of the team," he said. "It's really exciting that we got that win."

While it's unclear if Pitlick will be back in the lineup for Thursday night's game against the expansion Kraken at Climate Pledge Arena in Seattle, it's clear he ended up making a good first impression.

"We really liked Rem's game," Evason said. "He played with speed right from the drop of the puck. He was engaged. He did a lot of great things."

Asked how he felt after the game, Pitlick admitted he felt a little rusty early on. As he settled in, though, the former Gophers standout started to build some chemistry playing alongside center Nico Sturm and opposite winger Brandon Duhaime.

As for the thrill of finally playing for the hometown team, Pitlick said it was a dream come true.

"It was super special," Pitlick said on the Bally Sports North broadcast. "I watched Wizard of Oz this past week. It's click the heels three times and there's no place like home. It was amazing."

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