Devan Dubnyk superfan Evan Bell scored the ultimate reward Saturday with a primary assist from a bunch of Jordan Greenway supporters.
Bell became a fan of the Minnesota Wild goalie about four years ago when he took up the same position while playing novice hockey. And the past two seasons when the Wild made their annual trip to Ottawa, Bell's hometown, he and his father Mike would get tickets hoping to see Dubnyk between the pipes.
"I like that he's Canadian and he does really smart things," said Evan, who has since gone back to playing forward for his peewee team, the Southend Serpents. "I just really like the way he plays."
In 2016, Darcy Kuemper made one of his 17 starts that season for the Wild. And in 2017, Dubnyk was injured when Minnesota played Ottawa.
Their third attempt to see Dubnyk was more fruitful than they could've ever imagined.
Mike got them tickets near the tunnel by the visitors bench at Canadian Tire Centre and finally, Dubnyk got the start. Evan even made a sign to mark the occasion that highlighted their previous failed attempts.
Dubnyk helped the Wild beat the Senators 4-3 and made 24 saves. As he came off the ice, the group of Greenway fans that had traveled across the border from his hometown of Canton, New York helped get his attention.
"Those were the people that made it all happen, to be honest," Mike said. "And they were awesome."
Dubnyk stopped to sign his stick and handed it to Evan, then autographed Evan's sign before heading into the locker room.
Evan went from pure excitement to being overwhelmed. Mike couldn't help but get caught up in the moment too. Last season, Evan got a lot of attention at the glass during the warmup because he was all decked out in Wild gear, but when Minnesota players tried to flip him pucks, they landed in the hands of others.
"My little dude's an emotional man," Mike said. "He got his dad pretty emotional too."
Video: MIN@OTT: Dubnyk hands stick to a young fan
The feeling hadn't wavered once they got in the car to head home.
"We were sitting in the car trying to get out of the parking lot," Mike said. "We looked at each other and he said, 'I don't even know what to say,' and I said, 'Me either.'"
Now the stick is displayed proudly in Evan's room among all of his hockey memorabilia.
"It's becoming a tradition," Mike said. "We try to go to a few [Senators] games, but we make sure that we go see that [Wild] game every year. It's kind of nice because it falls right before Christmas or right after. Well, this was a pretty decent stocking stuffer."