While the four remaining NHL teams in the playoffs battle over the next several weeks for the right to lift the Stanley Cup, one excited group of young hockey players received the thrill of a lifetime as the most revered trophy in professional sports came to them.
As winners of the 2009 "Team Up and Bring Home the Cup" contest presented by Pepsi, Lay's and Gatorade, the HRS HUSKIES from St-Lazare, Quebec, got to host a victory party on Saturday that featured an extra-special twist: NHL great Mark Messier riding into town carrying the Stanley Cup.
"These young boys are dedicated hockey players with an amazing spirit," Messier said. "Amateur teams like the HRS HUSKIES are what make Canadian hockey such an inspiring sport."
Each season, 30 NHL teams start the regular season with aspirations of touching the Cup. The HRS HUSKIES had even longer odds at the start of this contest -- first, they were selected by a judging panel as one of 10 finalists from over 600 entries. From there, they prevailed thanks in part to a wealth of support from the St-Lazare community and Canadians who felt they deserved to win the ultimate prize.
"The HRS HUSKIES love for hockey and their exemplary team spirit was clearly felt by their community," said Dale Hooper, the Vice President of Marketing for PepsiCo Beverages Canada.
The team's celebration party, which featured a parade and street hockey game, will also receive coverage on TSN/RDS.
"It is wonderful to put the spotlight on local community teams and show the passion Canadians have for the game of hockey," Shawn Redmond, TSN's Vice President of Marketing, said. "The 'Team Up and Bring Home the Cup' contest definitely engaged the hockey community driving an incredible level of participation. A victory party for the HRS HUSKIES with the NHL Stanley Cup and Mark Messier is the perfect ending."
The community of St-Lazare would heartily agree. Gary MacDowell, whose son plays on the HR HUSKIES, and who entered them in the contest, says "the memory of winning this contest, and touching one of the most prestigious trophies in sports will stay with these boys forever."