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Hockey fever in full effect as Wild advance in playoffs

Plus: the bogus number behind Minnesota’s skilled workers gap; more details on the shooting at MSP; search continues for missing Stillwater woman; and more.

Minnesota Wild forward Zach Parise sliding into St. Louis Blues goalie Brian Elliott during the third period in game six of the first round of the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Marilyn Indahl-USA TODAY Sports

Go ahead, jump on the bandwagon. It’s not like there’s a World Series or a Super Bowl right around the corner. After the Wild’s first round play-off victory, Steve Macfarlane at Bleacher Report is saying, “The Wild were an underdog in the series by virtue of their landing spot in one of the two wild-card positions and the Blues claiming the title of what might be hockey’s toughest division. … They can score up and down the lineup. Their defensemen are great at joining the rush. They have one of the best goaltenders of the season as their last line of defense when things go wrong.”

In the PiPress, Chad Graff writes, “It was the first time a Minnesota-based NHL franchise won a playoff series at home since the North Stars eliminated the Blues in 1991. It meant a second straight season the Wild are headed to the second round, a second straight season they dismissed the Central Division champs, including a first-round win over Colorado last spring. And the Wild’s reward for all that? A third straight playoff meeting with the Chicago Blackhawks, the team that has ended their season the past two years.”

Stribber Jim Souhan writes, “Mike Yeo asked fans to drink Bloody Marys on Sunday morning. He wound up benefiting from an even more potent cocktail, a local favorite blending speed, toughness and hometown pride, garnished by an homage to a lost father. … Saturday, Yeo caused a local run on celery, begging fans to spike their tomato juice. It’s a tough sell — getting hockey fans to drink before a game — but Yeo is a thought leader, a rebel. His call to bent arms worked — one local pub even ran out of mix — and the X was filled with fans whose decibel levels exceeded their blood alcohol content. Social media was filled with photos of fans toasting Yeo.” Other than politicians promising to cut taxes, asking hockey fans to drink may be the easiest thing in life.

Speaking of over-imbibing. John Lundy of the Duluth News Tribune writes, “Not only is binge drinking more common in Minnesota and Wisconsin than in the rest of the nation, but it’s also more common in St. Louis and Douglas counties than in the rest of their respective states. … Overall, the data show binge drinking is increasing in the U.S., and it’s increasing more among females than among males, said Ali Mokdad of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington.”

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All those stories about a statewide thirst for skilled workers. A bit overstated says, Adam Belz in the Strib. “It’s been one of the most quoted economic statistics in Minnesota public life, cited by a chorus of business, education and political leaders since the recession. By 2018, 70 percent of jobs in the state will require postsecondary education.The projection gained currency at the State Capitol and bolsters the argument that Minnesota suffers from a skills gap that leaves employers unable to fill jobs because workers aren’t prepared for them. But five years after the claim surfaced in a report from Georgetown University, it isn’t coming true.”

Venture capital is flowing to software companies here in the state rather than medical device operations. Says Neal St. Anthony for the Strib, “In late March, Novu, a fast-growing consumer-software firm used by health care providers and insurers to connect with patients on online health-improvement programs, landed $20 million in venture capital designed to fuel the St. Louis Park ­company’s expansion. The deal underscored an interesting, albeit short-term trend. Of the $48.2 million in venture capital funds raised by Minnesota firms in the first quarter, $43.5 million, or 90 percent, went to software-related companies. ‘Typically our venture capital history has leaned toward medical devices,’ said Mark Scholtes, a Minneapolis-based partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers who analyzes the venture data in its quarterly PricewaterhouseCoopers MoneyTree report.”

What? No more Jell-O?  In the Strib Kim Ode says, “A financial analyst has suggested that Jell-O may not survive the new merger between Kraft Food Group Inc. (which makes it) and H.J. Heinz Co. and ‘could be axed.’ Cue a shiver of despair. It’s hard to remember a time before Jell-O. (On the other hand, perhaps it’s almost as hard to remember the last time you made it.)” Might as well cancel every Lutheran funeral.

Don Davis of the Forum News Service offers his appraisal of the legislature as it grinds toward adjournment. “The St. Paul Pioneer Press reports that he says there really is no need to approve billions of dollars in transportation improvements this year. ‘Transportation probably doesn’t have to happen. … We can kick the can down the road for the next Legislature to deal with. That’s what’s been happening.’ As to those tax cuts Republicans want? ‘We may not get a tax bill,’ Bakk said. ‘We just may not be able to come to an agreement.’ Then there are two Republican House bills that Dayton says are so different than what he says is needed in Minnesota that he can’t even see a starting place to reach an agreement: public education and health and human services spending. The fury he showed at Republican transportation plans earlier now appears directed to those two measures.”

More on the shooting at MSP Airport Saturday night. The Strib’s Paul Walsh and Erin Golden writeOfficers for the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport clashed with the driver about 9:30 p.m. Saturday on an upper level of the Terminal 1 ramp in the Hertz area. Police said they recently have received numerous reports of rental car thefts. The driver, a 36-year-old Twin Cities man, was hospitalized, authorities said during a media briefing Sunday afternoon. The suspect and the officer were both expected to survive their injuries. The driver’s identity was released, but he has yet to be charged. He’s accused of aggravated assault.

The Park Service … moving as fast as the glaciers it watches. Matt Sepic at MPR reports, “The National Park Service has no immediate plans to restore the wolf population at Isle Royale National Park. Wildlife ecologists from Michigan Tech University said last week that only three wolves remain on the Lake Superior island. They said new ones should be brought in to keep the moose population in check. Park superintendent Phyllis Green said that option remains open — but any intervention can happen only after the situation’s been carefully studied. ‘How many? Where from? How frequently will you do it? There’s a lot of pragmatic types of things to consider,’ she said Green said the process will take two to three years, and she hopes to begin in the next two months.”

Stillwater is focused on a woman missing since Friday. Mary Divine of the PiPress writes, “After searching on land over the weekend for Abbey Russell, the 24-year-old Stillwater woman who has been missing since Friday, officials on Sunday turned their focus to the St. Croix River. Dive crews searched the river near the Old Saw Mill Marina, just north of downtown Stillwater, on Sunday afternoon, said Sgt. Jeff Stender of the Stillwater Police Department. They have no indication that Russell is in the water, he said, noting that the water search was the next step after searches by air and on the ground. Foul play is not suspected, Stender said Sunday afternoon. Alcohol is believed to be a factor in her disappearance, he said.”

Yeah, it hasn’t exactly been a signature element of his public statements. Chris Tomasson of the PiPress says, “Former Vikings punter Chris Kluwe, Adrian Peterson’s teammate for six seasons, has questioned whether the star running back has shown appropriate remorse regarding a child-abuse incident that sidelined him for 15 games last season. ‘Obviously, AP can still play, but I think he needs to show that he understands he did something wrong and that he wants to work to change that, which I don’t know that he’s really shown yet,’ Kluwe said in a phone interview.”