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Alas, Hockey Day Minnesota 2014 has come and gone, but what a memorable day it was.
Last week, we featured stories from around the State of Hockey leading up to the 8th annual celebration. From one goaltender’s dedication to the sport he loves, to Minnesota connections on the U.S. Women's Olympic team, to a video featuring a special pond hockey tournament, each story showed off Minnesota’s love for the game.
Finally the day arrived and with it was the awarding of the State of Hockey Legacy Award, which Lou Nanne received this year.
Don’t forget to check out our photo gallery documenting the full day’s events including photos from each outdoor game in Elk River, the Gophers win over Ohio State and the Wild’s rousing overtime win against Dallas — with the golden goal scored by Elk River’s own Nate Prosser.
We joke, but Prosser’s heroics on the same day Elk River hosted Hockey Day Minnesota is the stuff of Hollywood movies. You really can’t make it up.
But Saturday wasn’t the only time Prosser has stepped up, in fact since Jared Spurgeon was sidelined with a foot injury at the beginning of the month, the defenseman has stepped into a larger role alongside Marco Scandella. And people are taking notice.
Prosser was the subject of pieces by both local beat writers — Chad Graff of the Pioneer Press and Michael Russo of the Star Tribune.
It’s been an interesting rookie year for Justin Fontaine but he’s starting come into his own lately — even netting his first career hat trick a few weeks ago — and has worked his way up to the third most goals on the team.
But after spending some time out of the lineup and moving up and down the lines, he’s found a home on the third line and continues to work hard day in and out. I caught up with him last week and chatted about how it was all going. Overall, the young winger knows he needs to keep paying his dues and it will continue to work out.
(Any Pride and Prejudice fans out there? Just me? Ok.)
It’s always been said that goaltenders are, well, a little different. In the case of Darcy Kuemper, the Wild’s corps of goalies seem to have rallied around the youngster as he’s gone on a tear between the pipes.
With Josh Harding dealing with illness and Niklas Backstrom nursing some of his own ailments, Kuemper has stepped up big time. Russo explores his recent play and the help he’s received from his fellow netminders as he navigates his current time with the team.
The drive between Saint Paul and Des Moines isn’t exactly the most picturesque drive. Though, prior to the month of Janurary, it’s a drive Jason Zucker was getting familiar with and it’s one he hopes he doesn’t have to make any time again soon.
Russo talked to Zucker about what it’s like, shuffling between the two teams in a feature last week.
Zucker was also the feature of a different kind of journey last week. With Ottawa in town, the Ottawa Citizen looked into Zucker’s days in roller hockey and his relationship with Bobby Ryan, who grew up in California.
With four important names listed on Injured Reserve, there hasn’t been just one player who’s stood out in their absence — rather the Wild have done it my committee lately.
Every game there seems to be a different hero, whether its Prosser’s recent ability to scoring game-winning goals or the combination of Dany Heatley, Charlie Coyle and Jason Zucker getting things done up front — it’s a different name each night.
The trend hasn’t been a secret, but Graff explores the subject in his recap of Saturday night’s win.
This isn’t the first time our Hockey Hugs photo gallery has been featured on this list, but with a fresh batch of hugs added, we couldn’t resist linking it up again.
Because, really, who doesn’t love a good hug?
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