MANKATO, Minn. — A Minnesota State University at Mankato student is recalculating her projected college debt after an unexpected windfall that came at the end of a hockey stick.
Morgan Ward isn't really a huge hockey fan and hadn't even touched a stick since high school gym class when she entered a contest Friday at the Mavericks' hockey game against Lake Superior State. Morgan, boyfriend Brody Hanson and some friends got some tickets to the game and headed on down to the Verizon Center.
Director of Marketing and Community Engagement Nick Lewis says the 20-year-old Ward was one of many fans who texted a code to enter the contest as she walked into the arena. She ended up being one of just two people who was randomly picked to take part.
When the text came back telling her she would be a contestant between the second and third periods, Morgan panicked. "I'm like, no Brody, I'm not going to do it, you're going to do it," she said. Hanson read the fine print and told her since she texted, she would have to take the shot. Morgan thought about hiding in the bathroom but finally agreed to walk down rinkside.
"I'm going down there, my knees are shaking," she told KARE 11.
The contest involved shooting a puck from the far blue line into a tiny opening on the goal line, an opening barely bigger than the width of a puck. That's a precision shot just shy of 115 feet, one a member of the Minnesota Wild would find extremely challenging. Cameras were rolling as she lined up the shot, let it fly...and buried the puck to win the grand prize of $30,000.
"There was was honestly no strategy, I just wanted to make it down the ice," Ward recalled.
"We were in the tunnel laughing beforehand," Lewis shared. "There's nobody who can make this shot. It's impossible."
Ward took the shot and saw the puck headed for the opening but didn't see it go through.
Lewis says the crowd realized Ward had hit the opening before the Mavericks support crew or she did. "Are you kidding me?" shouted the announcer, as fans screamed in disbelief.
The junior business major says she's watched her big-money shot from every angle there is, just to make sure what happened isn't a dream. She plans to put her winnings in a savings account or investment vehicle and watch it grow, as she "still lives with her parents and wants to get out of there someday.".
Marketing Director Lewis said Friday night was the first time the Mavericks Athletic Department had ever held the contest, and that Ward won the jackpot on the first-ever shot. Verizon agreed to sponsor two games of the contest at two shots per game, so fans have at least one more chance to win at the Mavs game versus Alabama-Huntsville Feb. 2.
Morgan Ward's advice to whoever is lucky enough to get that opportunity? "Just shoot straight," she said laughing.