Feb. 13, 2012
When the Stanley Cup made its way to the Cavendish Farms Wellness Centre in Montague, Emma Gillis was one of the first people in line.
She got to the Wellness Centre at 9 a.m., making her the 12th person to get her picture taken with the cup, which was set up in the main lobby of the Wellness Centre.
Gillis said it was her first time seeing the Stanley Cup up close.
She said she almost didn’t believe the cup was coming to Montague at first.
“Being a small town, it was great to hear that we were going to have the chance to not only see the Stanley Cup, but touch it as well.”
Montague was just one stop in the cup’s four-day, Island-wide tour, part of CBC’s Hockey Day in Canada celebrations on Prince Edward Island.
Gillis said the excitement was there as soon as she got to the rink, and the anticipation grew stronger as the Cup got closer.
“Once the Cup was rolled in the rink, flashes of cameras were going off, people were cheering and applauding, and the smiles of everyone lit up the room. It was an amazing experience to witness the happiness of everyone there.”
The excitement Gillis felt at the front of the line was matched all the way through.
Islanders young and old had broad smiles. People were laughing and joking around with each other as the line progressed.
Some were wearing NHL jerseys, while some children chose to wear their own minor hockey jerseys.
The long wait didn’t seem to bother anybody in attendance.
Robert Benoit was near the back of the line. He proudly sported his Toronto Maple Leafs jersey as he walked through the line, which led to a playful joust between Benoit and a friend who showed up with a Montreal Canadiens pennant.
Benoit said, although he hasn’t seen the trophy very often as a Maple Leafs fan, it was nice to see the Stanley Cup for the first time.
“The crowd that was here today, it was just great. It’s a big boost, and it’s nice to see the kids all here and enjoying themselves.”
Benoit said he didn’t want to pass up an opportunity to see the cup come to town.
“Growing up as a kid, you always want to see it and you never get the chance. So I said I’ll just stop by and get my picture taken.”
Benoit said the crowd was enthusiastic about the cup’s appearance.
“They’ve been waiting for this for months, I guess since they announced it was going to make the Island tour. Everybody’s up for it, so it’s pretty good.”
For Benoit and so many others, the line had to move quickly in order for everybody to have their opportunity to pose with hockey’s greatest prize.
An event like the Stanley Cup Relay requires numerous volunteers in order to make things run smoothly.
Cory Deagle was the volunteer coordinator for Montague’s leg of the relay.
Deagle said over 700 people made their way through the line to get their photo taken.
“It was a little overwhelming at first, but once we got started, it went really quickly and it was just great.”
Deagle said the event was amazing.
“To have the cup in our new rink, it’s a big thing. We got everybody through, and it was a great experience.”
Deagle and his team kept the line moving efficiently throughout the event.
As the line progressed, visitors had the option of paying to get their photo taken with the cup, with all proceeds going to the Montague Peewee AA Norsemen hockey team as they travel to Hamilton for a tournament.
Montague has participated in the tournament for 44 years.
Once people got to the front of the line, they each had a few seconds to pose with the Stanley Cup for a photo.
Dan MacKinnon was the man behind the camera.
The owner of his own photography shop in Montague, MacKinnon said parents from the Peewee AA team approached him to take photos prior to the event.
“They asked if I’d be interested, and I said I sure would.”
MacKinnon said the relay would be great for the community.
“I thought it was really good to have it to bring people together and get a little community spirit going here.”
MacKinnon said feedback has been positive so far.
“The comments I’ve been receiving have been pretty positive. Everybody seemed to enjoy it, and they seemed to have a good time.”
MacKinnon said he understood some of the frustrations concerning limited time with the cup.
“I’m sure people would have loved to spend more time with it, but there were over 700 people in the line, and we only had it for an hour.”
It was a busy hour for MacKinnon behind the lens, but everybody who went to the Wellness Centre got to spend a moment with the Cup.
At about 11:45, Phil Pritchard, ‘The Keeper of the Cup,’ returned to the lobby to take the cup and get it ready for its next stop, the Eastern Kings Sportsplex in Souris at 12:30 p.m.
While their time with the Stanley Cup was limited, it will be a time fondly remembered for everybody involved.
Cory Deagle said he hopes Hockey Day in Canada would keep people interested in hockey.
“Hopefully it will get people coming to the rink more often.”
Dan MacKinnon said the relay would help promote hockey across Prince Edward Island.
“After seeing all the young people and how excited they were about seeing the Cup, I think it’s going to be a big boost for minor hockey across the Island.”
Emma Gillis said she would share her excitement with others.
“I am honoured that I got to see the Stanley Cup, and I got to cross an item off my bucket list.”
Filed under: Geordie Carragher