MINNEAPOLIS -- If the 2016 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series event at TCF Bank Stadium this past weekend proved anything, it was that the "State of Hockey" is just that and more.
It began the moment Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton made an official proclamation Feb. 2 to declare the weekend "NHL Stadium Series Weekend" and concluded with a 6-1 win by the Minnesota Wild against the rival Chicago Blackhawks before 50,426 on Sunday.
Minnesotans take great pride in this outdoor stuff, particularly since the state boasts almost 12,000 lakes, making pond hockey a way of life. The state produced 36 players on NHL rosters this season and ranks first in the nation in terms of participation, according to USA Hockey.
Fans were treated to games and activities at Spectator Plaza, and they had a chance to see in person the hockey legends who played for the Minnesota North Stars/Wild and Chicago Blackhawks during a red carpet entrance prior to the 2016 NHL Stadium Series Alumni Game on Saturday.
Here are 10 other unforgettable moments from the weekend in Minnesota:
A great day for hockey: In between the goals and bone-jarring hits there was plenty of energy, enthusiasm and entertainment. Minnesota native Dave Pirner led his Grammy Award-winning rock band Soul Asylum in a pregame set of songs, The University of Minnesota band performed during player introductions, and singer/songwriter Jazmine Sullivan offered a beautiful rendition of the U.S. national anthem.
If that weren't enough, a brief snowfall that lasted about 20 minutes during the first period created a fantastic backdrop to an already glorious day for outdoor hockey. Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees Cheap Trick also got in on the act with a rousing performance during the first intermission.
"That was great with snow," Wild left wing Zach Parise said. "That was a great element added to the game. It snowed a little bit, but not a lot remained on the ice. It was just enough so that wherever you looked, you saw the snow coming down and it made for a much cooler experience."
The temperature at puck drop was 35.6 degrees, almost three degrees warmer than the average temperature at the start of the 16 previous NHL regular season outdoor games (32.7).
Video: CHI@MIN: Sullivan sings national anthem prior to game
Torchetti defeats old friend Quenneville: Minnesota Wild coach John Torchetti was the first coach in NHL history to make his home debut in an outdoor game, and has also been behind the bench as interim coach for a season-high four-game winning streak by the Wild ever since taking over for Mike Yeo on Feb. 13.
Against the Blackhawks, he secured his first victory in his first meeting against the team he once served as an assistant from 2007 to 2010, winning a Stanley Cup and taking part in the 2009 Winter Classic. He was on Chicago's bench the first three seasons of the Patrick Kane-Jonathan Toews era.
"[Torchetti] was talking about [Kane] and the boys, name-dropping those guys all week and rightfully so," Wild defenseman Matt Dumba said. "He had a tremendous experience with those guys in winning a Stanley Cup. It's pretty cool what he accomplished and now we're trying to do something similar to that."
Minnesota has scored five or more goals in each of its four wins under Torchetti, a first in franchise history and they are one point behind the Nashville Predators for the second wild card spot into the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the Western Conference.
Video: John Torchetti on Stadium Series Victory - 2/21/16
The fans: It was quite an electric atmosphere for those in attendance at TCF Bank Stadium on Sunday.
The Minnesota Wild may have notched their fourth straight victory, but the biggest winners were the fans who provided enough energy, enthusiasm and singing to make lasting memories.
"For us to be a part of it, hopefully we can be a part of more of these, because it is the ultimate experience for your family," Wild defenseman Ryan Suter said.
An impressive 'Let's Play Hockey' message was created in the stadium for the television audience by those fans holding up cards prior to puck drop. Continuous chants of "Let's Go Wild!" continued throughout the course of the game. They joined in the chorus when the stadium sound system played Neil Diamond's "Sweet Caroline" and when the result was inevitable, began the wave midway through the third period.
"It's pretty awesome; you're caught in awe and you're looking around and enjoying the moment," Wild right wing Jason Pominville said. "Like Ryan [Suter] said, the whole experience has been awesome. I was fortunate to play in one [outdoor game] about eight years ago. Everything that surrounds it is awesome."
Video: CHI@MIN: Blackhawks and Wild head to the ice
Dumba lowers the boom: Dumba provided just the impetus to not only jumpstart the Wild but also put the fans into a frenzy.
Dumba opened the scoring when he connected for his fourth goal in nine games off a rebound in the crease at 3:25. It was the type of play that interim coach John Torchetti has come to expect from his defensive core and the type of effort that will be needed if the Wild has any chance of challenging for a spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
After his goal, Dumba, who was known to throw his weight around as a standout with the Red Deer Rebels in the Western Hockey League, delivered a hard, clean hit on Andrew Desjardins that ignited a skirmish in front of the Blackhawks players' bench. Blackhawks forward Phillip Danault skated over and bumped into Dumba and the two toppled to the ice. Danault drew the extra penalty, however.
"Throughout the game, we talked about wanting to win every period, and be relentless," Dumba said. "The fact we owe the [Blackhawks] after so many playoff losses was on our mind. Hopefully we see them down the road and we just keep doing what we did [Sunday]. We just need to play our hardest against them and whatever it takes to get the win."
Video: CHI@MIN: Dumba nets juicy rebound for an early lead
Denis and Dino: Hockey legends Dino Ciccarelli of the Minnesota North Stars alumni and Denis Savard of the Chicago Blackhawks alumni were part of multiple brawls during their heyday in the NHL during the 1980s.
They decided to make up for lost time just 25 seconds into the 2016 NHL Coors Light Stadium Series Alumni Game on Saturday during a staged tussle in front of the players' bench for the Blackhawks. While there was no winner, Savard gave Ciccarelli a glove wash and Ciccarelli unsuccessfully attempted to lift Savard over the boards and into the bench.
Savard then got the crowd of 37,922 going when he began waving his hands in the air while returning to his bench.
"It surprised me with Denis, he normally doesn't do that unless Al Secord is on his left wing," Ciccarelli said. "So he kind of caught me off guard a little bit. I was giving (Brad) Maxwell and (Jack) Carlson crap because normally they come in and take care of business for me. I normally started them and got out of there."
Video: Stadium Series Alumni Game: Dino, Denis settle score
An inspiring moment: Josh Karels, diagnosed with a rare immune deficiency disease 10 years ago that has gradually destroyed the inside of his body, served as the honorary flag bearer at the start of the game on Sunday. The 15-year-old native of Cottage Grove, Minn., touched gloves with every player on the Wild when the home team entered the ice prior to puck drop. Karels continues to play hockey for his bantam A team in town and has been an inspiration throughout the "State of Hockey."
Karels has had over 20 different surgeries in the past 10 years. Due to the disease, Karels' body is seen as foreign by his immune system and little by little is destroying itself. "I guess I don't really think about [myself as a miracle on ice]," Karels said. "I just play the sport I love and if that inspires people, then that's good."
Broten salutes Herb Brooks: Neal Broten told NHL.com that among all the awards and championships he garnered as a player, none quite compare to the gold medal he won as a member of the 1980 U.S. Olympic Team under coach Herb Brooks.
"We weren't even supposed to win a medal and the team was really unselfish and we played like a hockey team should play," Broten said. "Passing the puck and working for one another. It was a treat being on that team. [Brooks] expected you to play hard every night and he let you know when you weren't. So play hard every night; that's what he taught me."
In addition to his Olympic gold at the 1980 Lake Placid Olympics, Broten helped the University of Minnesota win the NCAA title in 1979, he was the first winner of the Hobey Baker Award in 1981 and won the Stanley Cup with the 1995 New Jersey Devils. He's the only player in hockey history to have won all four.
Video: Minnesota Wild/North Stars alumni intros
Hometown Haula: Center Erik Haula, who spent three seasons at the nearby University of Minnesota, gave the hometown faithful plenty to cheer about when he was named first star of the game after scoring one goal and a career-high three points. He also went 50 percent on faceoffs in 14:38 of ice time.
Haula has recorded three multiple-point games in the past four.
"Things are going the right way," Haula said. "We have an emphasis that we try to play the right way. Most of the time we were out there playing against Patrick Kane's line and the emphasis was to play good defensively and that will lead to chances. That was kind of the script."
Video: CHI@MIN: Haula awarded goal after penalty
Crawford chased: Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford, who entered the game second in the League in wins (32) and first in shutouts (seven), was pulled for the second time in four games.
Crawford was pulled to begin the third after allowing four goals on 23 shots through two periods and was replaced by Scott Darling. He was also pulled in the first period of a 4-2 loss against the Dallas Stars after allowing four goals on 18 shots.
"There are no excuses in this room," Crawford said. "We're professionals. Everyone has a tough schedule at some point, so it's no excuse to play the way we did. It was tough. It was a little embarrassing out there to be honest. To have our fans come and watch, that was definitely a tough one to swallow. But a lesson we can learn going forward here."
Video: CHI@MIN: Niederreiter completes Wild's pretty passing
Dubnyk dominates: Wild goaltender Devan Dubnyk has won three of his past four starts after losing nine straight. He was very sharp in making 31 saves against the Blackhawks on Sunday, stopping 11 shots in each of the second and third period.
Dubnyk, who received a scare during practice on Saturday when he took a puck to the neck, will be relied upon down the stretch as the Wild attempt to make a push for a Stanley Cup Playoffs spot. The 29-year-old, who improved to 21-19-5 this season, is still looking to return to the form that enabled him to win the 2015 Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy when he finished second in the NHL in goals-against average and save percentage.
"I hadn't let up a goal after two periods, but I don't start thinking about a shutout until there are maybe a few minutes left," Dubnyk wrote in his exclusive blog for NHL.com. "You know, you are feeling good in the game, and it's like you are doing anything you can in the game to not get scored on, but I usually don't think too much about a shutout until it gets down to two or three minutes left in the game. Obviously, I didn't get there."
Video: CHI@MIN: Dubnyk denies deflection to force faceoff