The Latest – December 20, 2011 20 Dec 11

Wild At Calgary
(Calgary, Alberta) — The Minnesota Wild have hit a snag since ripping off seven straight wins and look to get back on track tonight with a showdown against the Northwest Division-rival Calgary Flames at the Saddledome. The Wild have dropped a season-high four in-a-row, after suffering a 4-0 setback at Vancouver last night. It was the first time Minnesota was shut out this season, but the Wild still lead the Northwest Division by three points over Vancouver. Calgary is also mired in a four-game losing streak and just went 0-2-and-2 on a recent four-game road trip. The puck drops at 8 p.m. tonight. Minnesota will close out the road trip Thursday at Edmonton.

Calgary Player Out
(Calgary, Alberta) — Calgary Flames forward Rene Bourque was suspended for two games, without pay, on Monday. Bourque was caught for checking Chicago defenseman Brent Seabrook from behind early in the first period of a 4-2 loss to the Blackhawks on Sunday. The 30-year-old was given a major and game misconduct for his efforts.

Timberwolves Practicing
(Minneapolis, MN) — Timberwolves rookie Derrick Williams says he is learning more and more about becoming an NBA player throughout this abbreviated training camp. Williams says to learn new systems on both offense and defense, as well as getting to know his new teammates has been a challenge, but he feels he’s doing fine in the transition. He says the Wolves have a chance to be a good team because they have a lot of offensive weapons and anyone is capable of scoring 20 points in a given game. Minnesota wraps up the preseason slate with a game tomorrow night in Milwaukee. The T-Wolves beat the Bucks in Minneapolis last Saturday night.

(Minneapolis, MN) — Tubby Smith will put his team through an afternoon workout at Williams Arena today in preparation for a Thursday night game against North Dakota State. Smith’s team has mostly finished with final exams and will be coming off of a break that has had them out of game action since a December 13th win against Central Michigan. The Golden Gophers are 11-and-1 on the season, while the Bison will enter Thursday’s contest with an 8-and-2 mark. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m.

(Burnsville, MN) — St. Cloud State sophomore center Tim Bergstraser of St. Cloud has been named the Northern Sun men’s basketball Player of the Week. Bergstraser scored a career high 21-points and grabbed ten rebounds in the Huskies 84-73 win over Concordia-St. Paul over the weekend. The Huskies are now 8-and-1 on the season.

Final D-II Rankings
(Waco, TX) — The final NCAA Division Two football rankings are out and national champ Pittsburgh State is the number-one team. Runner-up Wayne State of Michigan is number-two. Wayne State knocked out both Minnesota-Duluth and St. Cloud State in the playoffs. The Bulldogs finished sixth in the national survey, while the Huskies end the season rated number-17.

Vikings Off Today
(Eden Prairie, MN) — The Minnesota Vikings are off today and will hit the practice field again tomorrow, getting ready for their Saturday encounter against the Washington Redskins. The 2-and-12 Vikings have lost six straight games, including this past Sunday’s 42-20 loss at home to the Saints. Saturday’s game kicks off at noon.

Kubel, Snakes Make It Official
(Phoenix, AZ) — The Arizona Diamondbacks finalized a two-year deal with former Minnesota outfielder Jason Kubel today. Kubel had played all seven major league seasons with the Twins. The deal includes a mutual option for a third year. The 29-year-old hit at least 20 home runs in three straight seasons from 2008-10 but was limited to 99 games this past year, spending more than a month on the disabled list with a sprained left foot. He batted .273 with a .332 on-base percentage, 12 homers and 58 RBI, and his .324 average with runners in scoring position ranked 12th in the American League. He led the AL with a .351 average through May 8th. Kubel had a .271 average, 104 homers and 429 RBI in 753 games for the Twins.

Ice Conditions Weak In Some Areas
(Brainerd, MN) — The recent warm-up has weakened ice conidtions on many lakes and rivers across the state. Crow Wing County Sheriff Todd Dahl says they had reports of a number of fishhouses breaking through the ice, along with four-wheelers. Dahl says to keep in mind that there is no such thing as good ice, and you should always use extreme caution. He says ice thickness can vary widely from lake to lake. Before heading out onto a lake, check with a local bait shop to see what the ice conditions are like, especially if it’s a lake you are not familiar with.