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Van carrying Wild's equipment catches fire, leaves team scrambing

OTTAWA - The Minnesota Wild have been hot lately, but it was Minnesota's equipment that caught fire Friday and left the NHL team scrambling ahead of its game against the Ottawa Senators.

Much of the team's gear was damaged when a fire broke out in the back of the cube van carrying the equipment from a practice rink to Scotiabank Place, where Minnesota plays the Senators on Saturday night.

"There was a fire in an equipment van in the parking lot at Scotiabank Place this afternoon. No one was injured, but some of the Minnesota Wild's hockey equipment was damaged. The Wild is in the process of taking inventory to determine the damage to the equipment," the team said in a statement.

The statement added that the game would proceed as scheduled, so the Wild were forced to make hasty arrangements in order to get replacement gear in time for the contest.

"I've never heard of anything like this in my life," Wild winger Martin Havlat told the Ottawa Sun. "When I first heard about it, I thought it was some kind of a joke."

The Wild had arrived in Ottawa after beating the Canadiens 3-1 in Montreal on Thursday night for its 10th win in the past 13 games.

With Scotiabank Place booked Friday for a showing of the So You Think You Can Dance Live tour, Minnesota practised at the nearby Kanata Recreation Complex.

Afterward, the gear was placed in a cube van and driven five minutes down the road to Scotiabank Place, where the fire department had to be called to the loading dock of the arena just after 2:30 p.m.

The cause of the fire was not known and is said to be under investigation.

According to the team's website, assistant equipment manager Brent Proulx was to return to Minnesota on Friday night and gather replacement gear with help from other members of the Wild staff.

A plane carrying the NBA's Milwaukee Bucks home from their game at Cleveland on Friday night was to re-route and bring back the Wild's equipment to Ottawa early Saturday morning.

"Looks like we're going to try to play, I guess," Wild forward Andrew Brunette told the Minneapolis StarTribune following a players' meeting Friday night.

Although the media was denied access to the premises, pictures posted on the team's website showed extensive damage to the gear. The equipment of starting goaltender Nicklas Backstrom, who has won his last three starts, was said to be among the items destroyed.

With players often being finicky about their gear, it'll make things difficult for the Wild on Saturday.

"You can't worry about this. You can't hide behind this. You can't find any excuse," Backstrom told the StarTribune.

It's been a bad week for Senators opponents in Ottawa.

The Buffalo Sabres were beaten 2-0 on Wednesday night when seven players reportedly suffered food poisoning after eating at an Ottawa steakhouse a night earlier.



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