Hockey has been a part of Navy veteran Curt Johnson's life since childhood. Growing up in the State of Hockey, Johnson experienced the prime and subsequent departure of the beloved Minnesota North Stars as well as the joy of the NHL's return via the Minnesota Wild.
"I was really upset when (the North Stars) left for Dallas," Johnson recalls. "When I heard that Minnesota was getting a team again, I was super excited and put my deposit down for season tickets three years before the first game was even played."
Being a Minnesota Wild Season Ticket Member since day one, Johnson has countless memories inside Xcel Energy Center.
"The first few seasons were exciting at the Xcel Energy Center," he said, "and the atmosphere there has been electric since."
But they don't stop there.
His most favorite memory? Game 7. 2003 Stanley Cup® Playoffs. Against the Colorado Avalanche. In Denver. In overtime. Sergei Zholtok enters the Colorado zone. Drop pass to Andrew Brunette.
Any Wild fan who was around then knows what's happens next, as Minnesota advanced to the second round and eventually qualified for the Western Conference Finals.
From the beginning, Johnson and his family's love for the team has always been strong. It grew even stronger when tragedy struck in 2015.His son, Connor, was diagnosed with brain cancer-coincidentally-the same day they were to attend a game against the Vancouver Canucks.
"My son loves the Wild and was more upset that day that he was missing the game than having to be hospitalized - not really realizing the severity of his illness," Johnson said.
Throughout the grueling three year battle, the Johnsons found comfort in the support of family and friends as well as their Wild family, including former Wild defenseman Marco Scandella. Scandella invited Connor to join him for the team's family skate at TCF Bank Stadium ahead of the 2016 Stadium Series.
"The Wild definitely helped him (Connor) to keep a positive attitude throughout his ordeal by providing opportunities to make his life more enjoyable and special," Johnson said.
Now almost two years cancer-free, Connor continues to attend games with Curt to cheer on their Wild.
"I will always love the Wild because of what they've done for my son Connor," said Johnson. "I have been a season ticket holder since day one, and will be 4EVER WILD."
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