The premise was simple, and the $100,000 prize money hardly seemed at risk. Heck, Dino Ciccarelli, a right wing on the Minnesota North Stars hockey team, had tried the shot several times with no luck. After all, how could anyone slap a three-inch hockey puck through a four-inch slot in a plywood board from 90 feet away?
Ah! But nobody counted on Bruce Hanna, 46, a mild-mannered computer program designer from Medicine Lake, Minn. After the second period of a recent game between the Stars and the Los Angeles Kings, Hanna was one of six fans called to center ice and given two chances at the feat. “My first shot was wide to the left,” recalls Hanna. “I missed the board completely. Then I made adjustments and changed my stance. I swung a second time. And, by golly, it worked!”
“He just gave a little jump,” says Dick Arneson, marketing director for the North Stars. Marilyn Hanna, 43, Bruce’s wife, remembers being airborne herself. “I must have been screaming, ‘He’s my husband! He’s my husband!’ ” she says. “The people in the crowd picked me up and carried me onto the ice. They were cheering their heads off.” “Possibly,” interrupts Bruce in his dry way, “because the Stars were losing a very dull game.”
Bruce and Marilyn, both natives of southern Minnesota, have three boys: David, 22, Steve, 21, and Jonathan, 11. Every winter Bruce and his progeny step onto frozen Medicine Lake, where they enjoy their own brand of hockey. “It’s the only practice I get,” says Bruce. “Or want.” The Hannas still are undecided about their plans for the $100,000. Some will keep their two older boys in college, and they also talk about a trip to Europe.
Meanwhile, there are no hard feelings over at Minneapolis’s Donaldsons Department Store, co-sponsors of the contest. After all, Donaldsons lost only $1,030 on its promotion. That’s how much the store paid Alexander and Alexander, an insurance agency, which brokered the deal to John H. Crowther Inc., which placed it with Pine Top Insurance Co. in Phoenix. Pine Top vice-president Jim Vaughan says “prize indemnification” is just a small part of Pine Top’s business. “It’s pretty low-risk exposure and reasonably predictable,” he says. Except this time.