Cou­ple who met at ’03 Frozen Four re­turns to city – as hus­band and wife

The Buffalo News - - CITY&REGION - By Jane Kwiatkowski Radlich NEWS STAFF RE­PORTER

Kim Fer­ris and Dale Hansen from Min­neapo­lis met at the NCAA’s Frozen Four col­lege hockey tour­na­ment in Buf­falo in 2003, when teams com­peted at First Ni­a­gara Cen­ter.

Har­borCen­ter and 716 were just park­ing lots then and “canal­side” was some­where in North Ton­awanda. But the City of Buf­falo isn’t the only thing that’s changed.

Kim and Dale mar­ried months af­ter they met, on New Year’s Eve in 2003.

The cou­ple re­turned to Buf­falo this week, to

at­tend this year’s Final Four and re­trace the steps that brought them to­gether.

“We’re from the bold north,” said Kim, who was 40 when she met Dale. “Who plans a trip to Buf­falo in April af­ter just go­ing through win­ter in Min­nesota?”

But theirs is a love story whose first chap­ter was writ­ten here 16 years ago.

On Fri­days, the day af­ter the tour­na­ment be­gins, there are no games. It is tra­di­tion­ally filled with var­i­ous tour­na­ment-re­lated events such as the pre­sen­ta­tion of the Hobey Baker Award for ex­cel­lence in col­le­giate hockey, sim­i­lar to col­lege

Cou­ple

foot­ball’s Heis­man Tro­phy.

Dale at­tended open prac­tice that day with his brother and a few friends at the arena. Af­ter watch­ing prac­tice they searched for a bar to watch the Masters Golf Tour­na­ment on tele­vi­sion and smoke cigars. They tried a cou­ple venues, but none tele­vised golf. In the Chippewa Strip bar Soho, they scored a hat trick: golf, burgers and an out­door pa­tio that al­lowed cigar smok­ing.

At 38, Dale was a sin­gle at­tor­ney who lived with his cat, Zelda, named af­ter the wife of F. Scott Fitzger­ald. Born in south­ern Min­nesota, Dale lived in St. Paul and edited le­gal doc­u­ments for pub­li­ca­tion. He and his brother at­tended their first Frozen Four in 1986 and have not missed many since.

Kim stayed at the Uni­ver­sity of Min­nesota’s team ho­tel, the Sher­a­ton Four Points in Amherst. Kim’s fa­ther, Thomas Green­hoe, served as as­sis­tant sports in­for­ma­tion di­rec­tor for the Uni­ver­sity of Min­nesota Twin Cities. She grew up with Uni­ver­sity of Min­nesota sports.

She was di­vorced for five years and rais­ing a daugh­ter. She was “sin­gle and re­ally en­joy­ing it,” she re­called. On that Fri­day, she at­tended the Hobey Baker cer­e­mony and then headed to Soho to meet up with friends.

Dale and Kim met at Soho, where they were in­tro­duced by mu­tual friends. Kim was caught by Dale’s elec­tric smile. Dale did not re­ally re­call that ini­tial en­counter, though he did re­mem­ber run­ning into Kim at a Go­pher pep fest the fol­low­ing day.

Back home, it would take a while be­fore they went on their first date, but once they did, the dat­ing ad­vanced rapidly, fu­eled by their love of sports and an es­tab­lish­ment named Stub & Herb’s in Min­neapo­lis. On their third date, the night Kim cooked him spaghetti – he en­vi­sioned mar­ry­ing her.

With 35 friends as wit­nesses, Kim wore a red dress at their hol­i­day wed­ding in front of a fire­place in the living room of her house. It is now their home. They hon­ey­mooned at a re­sort in Wis­con­sin and have been to­gether in sports ever since.

Kim, 57, an en­er­getic woman who built her ca­reer on pub­lic re­la­tions, now serves as pres­i­dent of the Bloom­ing­ton Cham­ber of Com­merce. Dale prac­ticed as an at­tor­ney for 25 years and now works for En­ter­prise car rental in Min­neapo­lis.

Re­turn­ing to Buf­falo com­pleted the cir­cle they started in ’03, the Hansens said. Upon ar­rival at the Hol­i­day Inn Ex­press & Suites, they were given a wel­come box of “Buf Stuff” – T-shirts, Fin­ger Lakes wine, glasses and sponge candy – cour­tesy of the Buf­falo Ni­a­gara Part­ner­ship.

They cheered for the de­fend­ing cham­pion Uni­ver­sity of Min­nesota Du­luth’s Bull­dogs as they beat Prov­i­dence, 4-1, to ad­vance to the fi­nals.

“It’s great to be back. We’ve no­ticed Buf­falo is a lot more built up,” said Dale. “And we’re still go­ing strong.”

Derek Gee/Buf­falo News

Kim and Dale Hansen of Min­neapo­lis share a kiss Fri­day in front of KeyBank Cen­ter in the midst of Frozen Four week­end.

Derek Gee/Buf­falo News

Kim and Dale Hansen, decked out in their Min­nesota Go­phers gear, are in Buf­falo to cel­e­brate meet­ing at the Frozen Four tour­na­ment 16 years ago.

Mark Mul­ville/News file photo

Ni­a­gara Falls isn’t likely to re­ceive its pay­ments from Seneca Ni­a­gara Casino pro­ceeds any time soon de­spite an ar­bi­tra­tion panel’s rul­ing.

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