This is Stop No. 1 on a three-game road trip for the Wild, the beginning of a back-to-back and a test against the best team in the NHL.

But squaring off against the Panthers on Saturday at FLA Live Arena has even more significance for rookie Brandon Duhaime.

"It's going to be really special," Duhaime said. "Obviously, it's another hockey game and you've got to focus and prepare for that. But the side stuff is a really special moment for my family. It'll be really exciting."

Duhaime became the 15th Florida-born player to appear in the NHL when he debuted with the Wild in the season opener, making the roster out of training camp amid a promotion from the minors.

One-plus month into that journey Duhaime is back where the trek started, returning home to face the team he grew up rooting for with the people who supported his pursuit once again along for the ride.

"The moment might be a little bigger for them," Duhaime said. "You'll probably see my mom crying in the crowd. It gets me emotional thinking about how many sacrifices they made."

A native of Parkland, a suburb of Fort Lauderdale that's near the Panthers' practice facility and about a 20-minute drive to their arena in Sunrise, Duhaime was around hockey from a young age.

His dad Trevor and mom Martine are from Quebec. Trevor played the sport — even getting drafted by Washington in 1991.

"He started playing men's league and when I was 2 or 3 years old, he took me out on skates for the first time," Duhaime recalled. "I'd go out for the last five minutes and skate around a little bit. It was really fun. He got me into it.

"My mom said that was the only way they could get me to sit still for more than five minutes at a time, just watching my dad play hockey."

Eventually, Duhaime started playing and he spent the bulk of his minor league hockey career in Florida. Not until he was 14 did he leave, going to Canada with his dad to compete at the Pursuit of Excellence Hockey Academy in British Columbia.

"That was a huge sacrifice for my family and for him and my mom and my sister," Duhaime said. "It was integral in my development. Getting those three years at POE and developing there was really special."

After one season in the USHL, a stint that included a Clark Cup championship for Tri-City with current teammate Nico Sturm, Duhaime was drafted in the fourth round (106th overall) by the Wild in 2016 and went on to play three years at Providence College before turning pro.

The winger logged two seasons with Iowa in the American Hockey League before nabbing a spot in the Wild's lineup after a savvy audition at camp that showcased how he'd tuned his game to the professional level.

Since then, the 24-year-old has appeared in every Wild game and chipped in two goals and four assists.

His parents and sister Naomi watched his NHL debut in person on Oct. 15 at Anaheim, but now they'll get to take in his first game against the Panthers. Duhaime is expecting anywhere from 25 to 75 friends and family members at Saturday's game.

"The older I get the more I understand the sacrifices they made," he said. "It does motivate me more and more. You don't realize it as a kid. You're 14 and it's, 'Oh. I'll leave home. No problem.' You don't understand that your mom is probably crying all the time missing you guys.

"It was really hard on them, but I think they're really happy that it paid off in that sense."

Becoming an NHLer, however, doesn't just reflect on Duhaime and his family. His progression is also a nod to the local hockey community that helped launch this trajectory.

"It goes to show the game growing in Florida and how special that is," Duhaime said.