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Centennial Fan Arena

NHL Centennial Fan Arena comes to Anaheim

Touring tribute to century of hockey history brings together backers of rival teams

by Abbey Mastracco / Correspondent

ANAHEIM -- The Hardy family of Lake Forrest, California, is made up of diehard Los Angeles Kings fans. So you can imagine the looks they got on Saturday at Honda Center in Anaheim when they came to experience the NHL's Centennial Fan Arena clad in silver and black.

But Tom Hardy said he believes the Centennial Fan Arena, a touring tribute to a century of hockey tradition and history, should be about celebrating the game and the League's past and bringing fans of all teams together.

"It's to celebrate the whole sport and how long it's been around," Hardy said. "I'm most excited to see the [Stanley] Cup for the first time. It's my first time seeing it and it's really exciting."

The Fan Arena, consisting of two 53-foot trucks -- one a museum truck, the other showing highlights on a giant video screen -- a pop-up rink and the Clear The Ice Zamboni VR Experience, is making its way across North America. It debuted in Toronto at the 2017 Scotiabank NHL Centennial Classic and made stops in Arizona, Dallas and San Jose before heading to Anaheim.

The Hardy family, comprised of parents Todd and Brianne, daughters Aubrey and Giuliana, and grandparents Gary and Judy, came to enjoy the festivities with other fans who root for a variety of teams.

Tweet from @NHL: The Stanley Cup is there. @TeemuSel8nne is there.The party is underway in Anaheim at the Centennial Fan Arena! #NHL100

The events surrounding the NHL's Centennial Celebration were particularly meaningful to the Hardys and many others in Southern California. Hockey has grown immensely on the West Coast, so much so that you're just as likely to find a hockey family, like the Hardys, as you are a baseball or basketball family.

The Hardys are so into hockey that Tom's daughter Aubrey once got confused watching the Super Bowl.

"It was two or three years ago and we were watching the Super Bowl. She's watching the game and they were tackling and things like that," said Gary Hardy, Aubrey's grandfather. "All of the sudden, she looks at her dad and said, 'Don't they have a penalty box or something?'"

Aubrey and her sister Giuliana each skate and hope to play hockey just like their dad, who, when he was younger, participated in camps run by former Kings forward Luc Robitaille.

On Saturday, another former Southern California hockey great the crowd thrilled the fans as former Ducks forward Teemu Selanne got a huge reception when he toured the museum.

Former Ducks defenseman Scott Niedermayer, the captain of the 2007 Stanley Cup champions, was also at the Fan Arena, as was the organization's first draft pick, goalie Guy Hebert, who took a particular interest in the riding the virtual reality Zamboni.

The day concluded with a watch party of the Ducks' 5-3 loss at the Minnesota Wild, but the NHL's Centennial Fan Arena and museum truck is a win for fans.

"The one thing I enjoyed better about hockey than any other sport is the community involvement," Gary Hardy said. "You see it with almost every team. The communities that they're in, they're involved with. That's what's so great about the NHL is the community spirit that they embody."

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