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'It’s a blessing to be able to play'; Roseau's Huglen guiding Gophers to first Frozen Four since 2014

After an injury three years ago almost left him never playing the game again, Aaron Huglen is now chasing a national title with the University of Minnesota.

Minnesota vs Western Michigan, UMASS, NCAA
Minnesota freshman forward Aaron Huglen worked the puck past Western Michigan's Max Sasson during their regional final meeting at the DCU Center in Worcester, Mass., on Sunday, March 27, 2022.
Brad Rempel / University of Minnesota Athletics
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FARGO– It’s a freshman season Roseau native Aaron Huglen could only dream of.

“I’m just really thankful to be here right now. It was a long journey and it’s just a blessing to be able to play right now,” said Huglen.

Huglen scored in the NCAA Regional Championship game last Sunday against Western Michigan, ultimately helping send the Gophers to the Frozen Four for the first time since 2014.

“Everyone knew in the locker room when we went into the third, if we got the next goal it would be really hard for Western Michigan to come back. So obviously once I scored that, Ben Meyers made a nice pass over and I just got it off good. So once we had that, that was a big morale booster. We had quite a bit of game left still at that point. So it was definitely a big boost for us, but we were kind of just dialed in and had to keep going and finish the game up,” said Huglen.

One year ago though, Aaron was just thankful to even be on the ice skating.

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“That’s definitely one of the biggest struggles is just doubting, like am I going to be able to make it back,” said Huglen in 2021.

In the spring of 2019, an MRI found a bulging disc in Aaron’s back, requiring him to sit out from the game for nearly two years.

“I’ve been feeling good, it’s been going better than I think I anticipated,” said Huglen.

Not only is Aaron back, but he’s keeping Roseau on the map for producing elite hockey talent.

“Aaron Ness, me and my little brothers we actually used to be neighbors with his grandparents. So Aaron would come over from time to time and we always looked up to him so much. So it’s fun to carry on that legacy of having a Ram here with the Gophers,” said Huglen.

“Seven o’clock to nine o’clock, we always had open hockey at the North rink and that was open to anyone. So my younger brothers and I would try and pass with him before he started playing with his guys and we would watch him and stuff. So it was always special to look up to those guys,” Huglen added.

Ness never had the chance to play for a Frozen Four, now Huglen looks to finish what his idol started.

“I think it was just confidence. I’m just a firm believer. Every guy is talented but when you can get that confidence built up and just keep building on that, I think that’s when it gets a lot better,” said Huglen.

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Huglen and the Gophers take on Minnesota State-Mankato to open the Frozen Four Thursday night at 7:30 in Boston. That game will also be on ESPN-U.

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