Minnesota rookie Cuma makes his flight -- and debut -- this time

The SportsXchange

Defenseman Tyler Cuma made his NHL debut during Minnesota's 2-1 shootout win over Chicago on Thursday. It was a long time coming.

Cuma, 22, nearly made his NHL debut March 8 at Phoenix, but he missed his flight due to limited time between his Vancouver-to-Houston arrival and Houston-to-Phoenix departure.

This time, he got the call at 2:30 p.m. Wednesday for a 5 p.m. flight. He got to the airport around 4 and breezed right through security.

"I was flying down the highway making sure I didn't miss this flight this time around," Cuma said.

Cuma has been devastated by injuries since the Wild chose him 23rd overall in 2008.

"With the last couple years the way things have gone for myself, fortunately so far this year I've had a full season down in the AHL," Cuma said. "I've played a lot of games in a lot of different situations to get me ready for this. I've been waiting for this call for a long time.

"It's tough seeing guys go up (to Minnesota) around you, but you've got to battle the ups and downs of the game. Injuries happen and things don't go exactly the way you planned. My time is now. My opportunity is here."

Coach Mike Yeo said Cuma will be better for the adversity he has faced.

"Nothing's been given to him," Yeo said. "I think that helps people in the long run. When things are given to you, there's a sense of entitlement. The harder you have to work toward something and the harder you have to fight for it, the harder you're going to work to hang onto it."
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