SPORTS SUNDAY: Former Fargo Force stand-out Aaron Huglen returns to Scheels Arena for the NCAA Regional Tournament
Huglen and the Minnesota Gophers win the regional championship to secure their seat at the Frozen Four
A small town kid turn city slicker. Former Roseau Ram Aaron Huglen and the Gopher men's hockey team were welcomed to Fargo for the NCAA regional tournament. A three hour drive his family and friends are used to, as Aaron spent his junior hockey days with the Fargo Force.
"Just coming into town and just felt like home," said Aaron, a sophomore forward for the University of Minnesota. "I loved my time here in Fargo. So yeah, it's great to be back."
Coming to Fargo has taken Aaron down memory lane, reminiscing on the highlights of his junior hockey career.
"Last year I was here, we we went to the Clark Cup final," Aaron shared. "Obviously ended up losing, but we had a really good group of guys. So, it was a fun year."
Scheels Arena went the extra mile in making their former players feel back at home.
"I obviously got to see some people that I knew. And then, they also left the hat and a welcome back thing in my style. So, that was pretty special."
The Force program prepared Aaron for the collegiate level. As a freshman, he put up seven goals and 16 points with the Gophers. Now, as a sophomore, Aaron continues to evolve his game, but also is making a point to have more faith in himself.
"Becoming more confident on the ice. That's usually the biggest step for guys. So that's been a big part of my game."
And the confidence shined through for Aaron in game one of the regional tournament. He tied the game at two apiece in the semifinal, which fueled the six-goal offensive surge in the third period in the dominant 9-2 win over Canisius, sending the Gophers to the regional finals.
"We needed that goal at that time. So thankfully, the puck went in," shared Aaron, talking about his pivotal goal in the regional semifinal.
It was win or go home on Saturday night, taking on in-state rival St Cloud State. Minnesota's resilience powered them past the Huskies 4-1, punching their ticket to back to back frozen Four appearances. Falling just short last season, Aaron and the Gophers have something to prove, and it was all earned in the place Aaron once called home.
"Last year, we came up short and thankfully we get another crack at it. So we're thrilled about it. I love Fargo. I loved my time here, and it was great playing here again."
The Minnesota Gophers will play Boston University on April 6th in the Frozen Four semifinals. Puck drop is set for _____ on ESPN 2.