NEW YORK -- Because sports can play out something like a fairytale, it's often the best moments are preconceived in dreams.
For Nate Prosser, the process played out quite literally.
Two years ago, Prosser, an Elk River native, was taking a pregame nap before the Minnesota Wild would play the Dallas Stars. It was January 18, 2014, Hockey Day Minnesota, to be hosted in Prosser's hometown, where he spent his formative years.
Hours later, Prosser scored the overtime-winning goal at Xcel Energy Center, sealing a 3-2 Wild victory in a storybook scripted in Prosser's dreams.
"Honestly, going into my nap during the day, I was like, 'that would be a pretty cool thing to do,' but I don't score goals very often," Prosser said. "It was kind of a dream."
He credits Elk River, an honest, hockey-centric community, for helping him become the player and person his today. In the same respect, when retelling the story of how that game and goal played out, Prosser's assessment is fair, if not critical.
"It ended up going to overtime, and I didn't think I'd get a shift because usually I'm just cheering guys on in overtime," he said. "But I ended up getting out there, and the puck bounced out to me, and the rest is history."
About 40 miles away, Hockey Day was being celebrated earlier in the day at the Handke Pit, where Prosser created many a memory growing up.
"No one really recognized Nate as a professional hockey player until he got into his college years, and everybody saw that he was a bit above us as far as skill sets and whatnot," said Kyle Kurr, Prosser's childhood friend. "He was always competitive, and always down to earth, and I definitely enjoyed competing against him but it didn't become real that he was above and beyond us until he got into his college years."
On Hockey Day, Prosser wasn't fixated on the circumstances that surrounded the event, but they were certainly somewhere in his thoughts.
"During the game it was in the back of my mind," he said. "I obviously thought it would be cool if I was able to do something special. I know my buddies kind of blew up, they said at the bar in Elk River watching, drinks were going around, that kind of stuff, so it was cool."
Kurr was watching the game at a friend's home with a group of about four or five. Then, the surreal occurred.
"It came out of nowhere for us," Kurr said. "All of a sudden it was like, Nate is on the screen, and one second later, he scored the goal.
"It was more of a shock that he had just scored an overtime goal, being a fifth or sixth defenseman scoring an overtime goal, then all of a sudden it came after that, that, 'holy cow, he just scored the overtime goal, on Hockey Day Minnesota, as a Minnesota kid, when Hockey Day was represented in Elk River that year, and he's from Elk River.'
"I'm sure everyone's eyes were as wide as mine that day."
Soon after, Kurr attempted to contact a Prosser, but not Nate.
"I texted his dad, actually," Kurr said. "I sent him a text that just said, 'Hahaha,' or something, just laughing. And he sent me one back that just said, 'Laugh out loud.' We couldn't even put words to it."
In one moment, as the puck deflected to Prosser at the bottom of the right circle with 2:18 remaining in overtime, everything came full circle in a Disney-esque moment.
Here was Prosser, a Minnesotan, but more specifically, an Elk River-native, and someone who is forthright in saying he's not a goal scorer, scoring the game-wining goal, on Hockey Day Minnesota, hosted in his hometown.
"No one could have scripted that the way it happened; no one would have said Nate Prosser
is going to get the game-winner tonight," Prosser said. "It kind of just all worked out, and I was blessed to be a part of that day, and be a part of this organization."