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‘I was a Wild guy at heart’: Ryan Poehling on coming home

The Lakeville, MN native is facing the Wild for the first time.

NHL: DEC 16 Flyers at Canadiens Photo by David Kirouac/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

We all know how big of a deal hockey is in Minnesota, and how many players from here eventually make their way to the NHL. One player that has done exactly that, coming out of Lakeville, Minn., is Montreal Canadiens forward Ryan Poehling as he gets to face his boyhood team for the first time on Monday.

The Minnesota Wild was (and might still be) his favorite team in the league, so he was full of giddiness when he spoke with media before puck drop.

“I’m super excited,” Poehling said about facing the Wild on Monday. “I mean, growing up, I was the biggest Wild fan ever. I came to all the games and playoff games, so it’ll be weird going up against them. I was a Wild guy at heart. There will be so many family and friends here, it will be honestly a dream for me.

“Growing up, you think about playing in the high school hockey state tournament, in Minnesota, that’s the biggest thing; so to kind of look, and realize that you’re playing in the NHL, up against the Wild, a team that you love so much, is honestly a blessing and I’m so excited.”

Poehling has spent his entire pre-professional career in Minnesota. Starting out with the Lakeville North high school team, graduating on to St. Cloud State to put up two impressive seasons after being drafted in the first round by the Canadiens in 2017. Now well into his professional career, he has been bouncing around the different levels as he continues his development, and due to the structure of last season, he hasn’t been able to face the Wild yet.

It’s great to see these reunions and players care so much about coming home — but please don’t care so much as to score a hat trick against your favorite team or something. Lose, but you can put up a point or two if you want.

Puck drop is at 7:00 p.m.