Christmas delivery: Minnesota trucker helps Vermont player get home for the holidays

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Thanks to the quick thinking of her mother, Diane Murphy, and the help of a local truck driver, Ellice was able to return home the same day.

Ellice Murphy is a fifth-year senior defenseman with the University of Vermont women’s hockey team who has two goals and 10 assists in 88 career games with the Catamounts. A 2018 graduate from Roseau, she helped the Rams at the state tournament in 2017. This season, the Catamounts are 9-7-2.

His journey to Roseau began in Boston at 3 a.m. on Wednesday. She was planning to travel to Minneapolis, where she would board a flight to Thief River Falls to meet her parents, who would bring the time back to Roseau. The weather forecast had other plans.

Ellice’s first flight from Minneapolis was canceled due to fog, and the next flight from the city was not until 5:00 p.m. this flight would also be canceled.

So Diane began to look for other options. She posted on Facebook asking friends if there were any traveling from towns to Roseau, then decided to call Byfuglien Trucking.

Diane works for Polaris as a central planner and part of her job is to ship parts to different Polaris factories. So she works constantly with the trucking industry.

“It’s like the first thing I thought of,” said Diane. “I should see if Byfuglien Trucking by chance has a truck there.”

And of course he did. Diane called Julie Byfuglien from Byfuglien Trucking, who then contacted area truckers. Byfuglien found Alex Lee, a truck driver from Warroad, Minnesota, who was willing to drive Ellice.

“He didn’t hesitate. Not even knowing who this girl is, he was quite willing to help, ”Byfuglien said.

Lee was at Bennett Material Handling in Hopkins, Minnesota, picking up a forklift truck for Polaris. Ellice took an Uber from the airport to Bennett Material Handling, where she met Lee.

“I was telling my friends from school and my coaches what just happened to me,” Ellice said. “They were like, ‘Only in Roseau, Minnesota, can you go into a semi-final with a random stranger and know you’re going home. “”

Lee helped Ellice pack his bags into the truck and they began the six hour ride to Roseau. Aside from the foggy conditions on the road, the drive was good, Ellice said.

“I thought it was going to be awkward, but it wasn’t awkward. He was super nice, ”said Ellice. The couple found a common interest in hockey – Lee has four playing children and Ellice plays for the University of Vermont team.

Byfuglien Trucking is a family business with a history of transporting valuable goods. The business started hauling cattle, then expanded into hauling for Polaris, but are ready to help anyone who calls.

Ellice Murphy's family met her with Alex Lee in Roseau after a six hour drive.  Contributed

Ellice Murphy’s family met her with Alex Lee in Roseau after a six hour drive. Contributed

“We say ‘You call, we transport’, and when Diane called that day we said yes, we would take care of everything to help anyone,” Byfuglien said.

Byfuglien told the company that before the truckers leave, they are told to “take your time to get there, but hurry back.” She says that’s exactly what Lee did.

“We were carrying their precious cargo, which was their daughter, and Alex hurried home,” Byfuglien said.

For Diane, Ellice’s return on Wednesday was very special as it was the first time Ellice had returned to Roseau since March 2020. Last year, in an effort to reduce the spread of COVID-19, no one in the The University of Vermont hockey team was only allowed to leave during winter vacation.

“I was delighted that she came home and she hadn’t come last Christmas because of COVID,” Diane said. “I just didn’t want her to get stuck in the cities for a few more days. I just wanted to take her home.


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