Nick Bjugstad will never forget that night in April 2003. The Minnesota Wild his favorite team were in the midst of a Game 7 overtime battle against the Colorado Avalanche trying to capture their first playoff series victory. Tucked away in bed on a school night the 10-year-old Bjugstad listened intently for a sign. Anything to indicate an outcome. "I was still awake" Bjugstad said. "I was wired from watching the third period and I didn't want to go to bed." He did not have to wait long. Minnesota's Andrew Brunette came through with the clinching goal 3:25 into the extra period. Bjugstad heard his father Mike screaming in the basement. "I knew we won -- I knew the Wild won" Bjugstad said. "I can't say 'we' anymore." Bjugstad a first-round pick of the Florida Panthers may have to shed his allegiance to the Wild. But it has not stopped the rookie from reminiscing about his childhood team -- the one he'll get to face for the first time Saturday night. The prospect of facing the franchise that inspired him has rekindled many memories of his childhood in Blaine Minn. a suburb north of Minneapolis. He recalled spending hours upon hours playing shinny with friends at Happy Acres park or joining games in neighbors' yards. "My neighbors got sick of me from shooting pucks" Bjugstad said. "I put a lot of pucks in their yards and through their screen doors. They weren't happy." It was not until the age of eight though that Bjugstad could envision his backyard dreams translate into the reality of NHL glory. Bjugstad's uncle Scott played for the Minnesota North Stars but the center never had the opportunity to watch him play. The franchise moved to Dallas the year after Bjugstad was born.
Panthers rookie Nick Bjugstad enjoyed a Wild ride to NHL
Fox Sports Florida | Oct 18