You can bet the butterflies are likely working overtime in the stomach of Brennan Menell right now. Not only will the 22-year-old be making his NHL debut tonight as the Minnesota Wild face the Anaheim Ducks, but he’ll do in his home state in front of a hometown crowd.
Menell was born in Woodbury, Minnesota, right in the Wild's backyard. The blueliner grew up idolizing defenseman Jared Spurgeon, which is a bit ironic considering it’s a hand injury to Spurgeon that is essentially responsible for him getting into the lineup tonight. That said, no one should count out how hard Menell has worked for this moment or that fact that he’s been having an excellent season for the Iowa Wild of the AHL, recording 19 points in 23 games (two goals and 17 assists). He was skipped over in the NHL draft and eventually signed an entry-level contract with the Wild at the age of 20. Menell recently spoke about this moment that he’s dreamed about for a long time with Twin Cities Pioneer Press.
“It probably won’t set in fully until I step on the ice for an actual game. It’s just a special feeling being from here. You ask any kid that grows up playing hockey around the Twin Cities and the ultimate goal is to play for the Wild. Just being in the locker room and being around some of the guys I grew up watching is unbelievable.”
Menell also told the website that he’s worked on hard on his defensive skill to ensure that he would get his call up, adding it was an area he knew he needed to work on.
“Obviously, putting up the points offensively is really nice. I’ve always had those tendencies to jump up in the play; it’s something that’s always kind of come naturally for me and something that I love doing. But I feel like I’ve definitely improved defensively and I’m proud of that.”
A really cool moment for the Minnesota-born player. We’re certain he plans to make the most of it in front of plenty of family and friends.