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Wild prospect Marco Rossi’s quest to make the team: ‘He looked and played like he belongs’

The only reason Rossi, a 21-year-old center from Austria, was in the position to help on the game-winning play was because star winger Kirill Kaprizov left the game with an injury after taking a puck off his foot.

NHL: Colorado Avalanche at Minnesota Wild
Minnesota Wild right wing Ryan Hartman (38) celebrates his goal during overtime Sunday, Sept. 25, 2022, with forward Marco Rossi (23) and defenseman Matt Dumba (24) at Xcel Energy Center. The Wild won 3-2.
Bruce Fedyck / USA Today Sports
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ST. PAUL -- Minnesota Wild prospect Marco Rossi said all the right things in the lead up to training camp. Now he’s doing all the right things with the Oct. 13 season opener suddenly creeping into sight.

While there’s still a lot to figure out over the next few weeks, Rossi made a good first impression in the preseason opener against the Colorado Avalanche on Sunday afternoon at Xcel Energy Center. He played big minutes throughout the game, working on both the power play and penalty kill, and most importantly, assisted on center Ryan Harrtman’s game-winner in overtime.

“Just a tremendous pass,” coach Dean Evason said of Rossi’s setup on Hartman’s goal. “That’s what he does, right? Just a distributor, and he’s going to make those type of plays. He looked and played like he belongs.”

The only reason Rossi, a 21-year-old center from Austria, was in that position was because star winger Kirill Kaprizov left the game with an injury after taking a puck off his foot. That provided Rossi an opportunity to step up in overtime, and he did exactly that with a perfect pass to Hartman.

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In an instant, Foligno slammed his helmet and started screaming at the referee. He was assessed an unsportsmanlike conduct minor as well as a misconduct. All of it added up to 19 penalty minutes.

“It was a long shift,” Rossi said. “I was getting tired. I saw (defenseman Matt Dumba) on the blue line and I saw the room behind him. I knew if I got into the open space, he would drop pass it to me.”

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Sure enough, Dumba dropped the puck to Rossi, who glided toward the net before snapping a pass to Hartman at the very last moment.

“Just had the open space there and tried to give the pass to Hartzy,” Rossi said. “Just held it as long as I could and moved it over.”

Those types of plays from Rossi showcase why everyone is salivating over his potential. Not only is his vision superb for a player his age, he has the skill to make passes that others wouldn’t even attempt.

Asked what Rossi needs to do to stand out in training camp, Hartman noted how they are very different players. When he was trying to make a name for himself early in his career, for example, Hartman routinely dropped the gloves if he wasn’t feeling it on a particular night.

That doesn’t mean Hartman is suggesting Rossi do the same thing. He’s simply pointing out that he might need to dig deep over the next few weeks.

“Just do something to be noticed,” Hartman said. “You’re not going to have it every single night.”

As for Rossi, while he’s trying not to get too far ahead of himself, his ultimate goal is to make the team out of training camp. He spent much of last season in the minors after an underwhelming training camp, and hopes things play out differently this time around.

“Now I have more expectations,” he said. “I know what’s going to be expected of me.”

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While many expected Rossi to get the first crack alongside skilled winger Matt Boldy in the top half of the lineup, he has spent the early stages of training camp in the bottom half of the lineup.

“To be honest, I don’t care who’s left or right next to me,” Rossi said. “Just try to support them and make them better.”

It’ll be interesting to see how things play out as training camp progresses. If Rossi continues to play the way he did in the preseason opener, the coaching staff is going to have to move him up in the lineup at some point.

“I’m coming in and I know what’s going to be expected of me,” Rossi said. “I’m just trying to prove to everyone that I belong here.”

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