DENVER - Nate Prosser, a former Colorado College defensive star, spent many nights driving 45 minutes from his family home in Elk River, Minn., to downtown St. Paul to watch the Wild play hockey.

He was a typical Minnesota teen. When anyone asked what he wanted to do with his life, he delivered a simple response:

"Play professional hockey," he answered.

He hoped but did not truly expect to make this vision come true.

Prosser sat in a quiet Wild locker room Thursday and talked about his unlikely journey right back to the destination where he once drove in high school. He now plays for the Wild, the same team he once watched. The Wild are engaged in a fierce playoff battle with the Colorado Avalanche.

"It's been pretty exciting being around my family and friends in Minnesota," Prosser said. "It's obviously a dream come true and being in my first playoffs like this, it's really exciting to me."

Prosser, who turns 28 in May, played for CC from 2006 to 2010. He was signed by Minnesota and took a rapid journey from Houston, the Wild's farm club, to Excel Arena in downtown St. Paul. He played in 52 of the Wild's 82 games this season.

"This is something that I always dreamed of, something I always wanted," Prosser said. "I kind of took it step by step. Doors opened and doors closed and I was able to keep going on my journey to get here."

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Twitter: @davidlukeramsey