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Berube takes Stanley Cup home to Calahoo

by Chris Pinkert / St. Louis Blues

Calahoo, Alberta.

Population 85.

Yet somehow, when Blues Head Coach Craig Berube brought the Stanley Cup to the ice rink where he first learned to play the game, the line to catch a glimpse of the most coveted trophy in sports stretched out the door, around the parking lot and into the street.

Outside the only rink in town is a sign that says "Welcome to Calahoo." Above that is an image of a man wearing a headdress, a sure-sign that the First Nation population who lives in and around these parts is an important piece of the community.

Across the street was another sign: "CONGRATS CRAIG. GREAT JOB!"

Yes, Calahoo is quite proud of Berube, who is easily the most famous person to come from this small town located about 40 minutes outside of Edmonton. Berube is certainly the most popular figure in town right now because he's the first person to ever bring the Stanley Cup to the people of Calahoo.

"I never dreamt it! Unreal," said Ramona Berube, Craig's mother. "I never thought of something like this (happening). It's just great for everybody who was down at the arena to see it. You can see how much it means to everybody."


BURR-BEE or BER-OOO-BEE?

Because there are maybe as many as 100 Berubes living in Calahoo or just outside of it, it doesn't take long before someone mentions the family name. It's how they mention it, though, that gets your attention.

People here say "Burr-bee."

Not "Ber-ooo-bee"

"They've always said 'Burr-bee' here," Ramona said. "When Craig got into hockey, people said 'Ber-ooo-bee' and Craig never corrected them, which was fine. Craig's pronunciation is correct (based on the spelling), and his uncles pronounce their name his way now."


HOME SWEET HOME

Roger and Ramona Berube still live in the house that Craig grew up in. It's a small, cozy white home with green shutters that sits on acres upon acres of land which once was the family's farm.

Grandma Berube lived directly next door. A few Uncle Berubes lived on the other side of the main drive to the property. And the family business, Calahoo Meats Ltd., has been up and running here since 1973.

Amid all of that on Tuesday sat the Stanley Cup, right in the middle of the yard.

"We all grew up here," Craig told stlouisblues.com. "My dad and brothers lived on this farm or just down the road. We were grain farmers, cattle farmers, we had it all here, that's how we grew up. It's changed now, but still my dad lives here with his brothers and my uncle built a 9-hole golf course on the property over there.

"Every summer I come back once or twice, and when we play Edmonton I come back and visit if I have the chance. But this is the most special trip so far for me."


CHIEF AND CHIEF

One of Craig's childhood friends is Kurt Burnstick.

The two played hockey together at Calahoo Arena as kids, the same place Craig brought the Stanley Cup earlier to begin the day. Burnstick also told us that he played baseball with Craig (it's called Fastball in Calahoo) and that the Blues' coach was an outstanding pitcher.

While Craig left home to pursue hockey around age 16, Burnstick remained and has served as Chief of the First Nation community of Alexander for the last six sears. According to Wikipedia, Alexander has a total population of 2,264.

Video: Berube hears The Honor Song in Calahoo, AB

On Tuesday, Burnstick presented his friend with a sculpture of a Chief with an eagle, which symbolizes protection for Craig and his family. The sculpture took more than a month of work to complete.

In addition, a First Nation representative performed the Honor Song for Craig on Tuesday. The song has been passed down through the generations for more than 100 years to honor someone who has done something to enhance First Nation culture.

"To this community, it means a lot," Burnstick said of Craig winning the Stanley Cup. "Having one of their own have their name etched on the Stanley Cup, not too many people get that. It's a small community and it's a very proud day for them to know they're part of it, they get to see this guy every time he comes (back here). We all have a connection to him."


MR. GOALIE SHOWS UP

Just when you thought Craig's day with the Stanley Cup had everything… that's when hockey legend Glenn Hall showed up.

Hall, who lives about 20 minutes south of Calahoo in Stony Plain, AB, made the trip to congratulate the Blues' coach on helping St. Louis to its first Stanley Cup championship.

Hall was coaxed out of retirement to join the expansion St. Louis Blues for the 1967-68 season. He remained with the Blues for four years and took St. Louis to the Stanley Cup Final in each of the club's first three seasons.

"This is so very good for everyone in St. Louis," Hall told NHL.com shortly after the Blues won the Stanley Cup last month. "It wasn't easy, but then it's not supposed to be. It's not as much fun if it's easy. I'm very, very happy for everyone involved -- the ownership, management, the coaches, players and especially the fans."

Hall won the Stanley Cup in 1961 with the Chicago Blackhawks, claimed three Vezina Trophies as the League's best goaltender and made 13 NHL All-Star Game appearances. He also played in 502 consecutive games - 552 if you count the playoffs - all without a mask!


WHAT'S NEXT

Be sure to visit stlouisblues.com or the Blues' social media networks throughout July and August as we chronicle the Stanley Cup's journey in our "Summer with the Champs" series. Over the next two months, the Cup will travel more than 28,000 miles, spanning five countries and three continents.

Up next: Colton Parayko.

In addition, you can also follow the travels of the Stanley Cup by following @keeperofthecup on Twitter and Facebook or @travelswithstanley on Instagram.

Video: Kids with Berube drink orange juice from Stanley Cup

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