ST. PAUL - Lakeville, Minn., native Brady Skjei remembers watching "Saturday Night Live" at his apartment a few months ago when his New York Rangers jersey suddenly appeared on the screen.
"My phone blew up right away," Skjei said of the Nov. 18 episode that featured hip-hop icon Chance The Rapper. "I probably had like 20 text messages as soon as it happened and my Twitter and Instagram and everything like that was blowing up. It was pretty cool."
In a skit that has been viewed nearly 3 million times on YouTube as of Tuesday afternoon, Chance The Rapper plays Lazlo Holmes, a New York Knicks sideline reporter filling in at a New York Rangers game. He is clearly out of his element, cracking jokes about being too cold, not understanding what's happening on the ice and struggling to pronounce the last name of several players.
Like Brady Skjei.
After a couple minutes, "Saturday Night Live" cast member Alex Moffat appears on screen for an "intermission interview" wearing a New York Rangers jersey and turns around to reveal "SKJEI" on the back.
"Yes, so that's an S, a K, and a J all next to each other, so that's nope," Chance The Rapper said delivering the punchline without missing a beat.
That hit home with Skjei, a former University of Minnesota star, because people have been mispronouncing his name since he was a kid. For the record, it is pronounced "Shay."
"Yeah, that's kind of been a running joke my whole life," Skjei said. "I feel like everywhere I've gone, no one has really known how to say it, so for SNL to do a skit on that was pretty funny."
When Skjei and his roommate Kevin Hayes sat down to watch that SNL episode, they assumed it would be a bit about the New York Rangers.
"Obviously, I had no idea it was going to be my jersey or anything like that," Skjei said. "That's like the biggest stage. To see my jersey up there was really fun."
The 23-year-old has established himself as a key contributor on the Rangers blue line in his second year with the the team. He had 18 points (3 goals, 15 assists) in 56 games entering Tuesday's game against the Wild at the Xcel Energy Center.
Still, Skjei joked that the SNL mention has been the highlight of his career so far.
"My jersey was on 'Saturday Night Live,'" Skjei said with a laugh. "I guess I made it."
If Eden Prairie native Nick Seeler makes his NHL debut for the Wild on Tuesday, he will be the 51st Minnesotan to play in an NHL game this season.
"That's a lot of players," said Zach Parise, a Minneapolis native. "It speaks a lot for what's being done at the youth level here. ... It's always been a hotbed for hockey players, and it looks and sounds like it's only getting better. That's a good sign for everybody."
Elk River native Nate Prosser was blown away by the number.
"That's what this state is all about," he said. "When our winters are so long the way they are, we've got to get out and do something. And getting out to the rinks, that's what made it bearable and something we love to do. We like being from this state, obviously, and cheering on guys that are coming up in the ranks from here as well."
The Wild take a franchise-record 12-game point streak (9-0-3) at Xcel into Tuesday's game, tied with the Vegas Golden Knights (9-0-3) for NHL's longest home point streak this season.
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