By Mike Max

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The Vegas Golden Knights make their first appearance in Minnesota Thursday night. The NHL’s expansion team is in the hunt for a playoff spot as it heads to St. Paul to take on the Wild.

But there is a familiar vibe with the franchise, for several reasons.

Jason Zucker is a product of Las Vegas — he knows that market well. His parents are even season ticket holders for the Golden Knights, but who are they cheering for Thursday night?

“Well, I don’t know,” Zucker said. “I’ll have to ask them that question.”

As is the case with almost any NHL team, there is a Minnesota flavor to it. Vegas has a guy named Erik Haula, who has roots in both the Gophers and the Wild. His playing time and profile have been raised in Vegas.

Coming back home today has been different.

“I saw Granny and I saw Nino and some other friends — it’s weird,” he said. “Staying at the St. Paul Hotel, walking over — it’s really weird.”

Alex Tuch was once a coveted prospect for the Wild. He appears to be heading to a regular shift in a city that’s been an easy transition.

“It’s really nice,” he said. “First off, the weather — it’s a little bit warmer than, obviously, New York and Minnesota. It’s been really good. It’s actually a really tight-knit community. All the locals are really nice and we’ve had an unbelievable fan base.”

In the midst of it all, it’s an important game for both, with some amicable competition.

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