NORTH SAANICH, British Columbia -- For Bruce Cowick, the chance to get up close and personal with the Stanley Cup at the Kraft Hockeyville celebrations on Sunday was nothing new.
Cowick had already hoisted the Cup as a member of the Philadelphia Flyers team that won it in 1974. But what Cowick never got to do was share the Stanley Cup with his daughter, Sherri, who wasn't born when he won it, so they drove 40 minutes to North Saanich to see it.
Seeing Sherri fighting back tears when she found his name on the Cup, the trip was worth it.
"I didn't expect to get that emotional," Sherri told NHL.com, still wiping tears from her cheeks. "Growing up, he was just my dad who played hockey and when you are a kid it doesn't mean as much; you maybe don't understand the magnitude until you are an adult. But becoming a parent yourself, it just resonates on a totally different level."
Cowick, who played eight games for the Flyers in 1974, remembered coach Fred Shero's now famous quote from before Game 6 of the Final: "Win today and we walk together forever."
"You know what? It's true," said Cowick, who grew up on Vancouver Island and returned after he retired to become a policeman. "You see the people talking to me, asking about my Stanley Cup ring, they don't forget. My name is on the Cup and it will never be taken off."
Not everyone in the lineups that wound through and right out the parking lot party outside the Panorama Recreation Centre could make the same claim. But that didn't keep them from coming out to celebrate Kraft Hockeyville and get their picture taken with the Cup.
"The Cup just has this allure," said Howie Burrow, keeper of the Stanley Cup, after flying in with it from the University of Notre Dame on Saturday. "People come out of the woodwork just to see it."
The Stanley Cup was far from the only attraction on Sunday. Just as the community rallied to help North Saanich win Kraft Hockeyville 2015 in Canada, they came together again to celebrate the victory, which includes $100,000 in renovations for Panorama Recreation Centre.
Despite high winds and a mixture of rain and clouds that didn't give way to sunshine until the Cup arrived an hour after the party started, the parking lot outside the arena was packed with young hockey players and their families. Players from the local Junior B team, the Peninsula Panthers, started up a street hockey game with young kids, while others took turns taking part in a variety of different games and activities.
Inside the Panorama Recreation Centre, former NHL players Doug Bodger and Jyrki Lumme ran on-ice clinics for five hours, with a steady stream of kids from novice to midget taking turns getting dressed and undressed amid boxes of Tim Hortons donuts and coffee.
"Just getting out on the ice and getting back into hockey again is pretty neat," Bodger said. "And it's good to see the kids out and playing around with the puck and hopefully we are teaching them something. You see the improvement out there, that's the main thing."
The entire day was a great example of what Kraft Hockeyville is all about.
"An awesome day," said Pete Zubersky, general manager of the Panthers. "The community really came together, young and old, and I don't think it could have been any better."
Kraft Hockeyville continues with a game between the Vancouver Canucks and San Jose Sharks on Monday, but as excited as everyone is to have the NHL playing on Vancouver Island, the celebration Sunday exemplified the spirit that helped North Saanich win the competition. At its essence, the whole thing is about a community rallying around the rink, and that's what happened.
"That's how i saw it," said Jason Fletcher, an active volunteer who submitted the nomination and worked on the organizing committee. "The community has come together to win this and show the rest of Canada we're just as passionate about hockey as the rest of the country, where they have snow and freezing temperature all winter like we don't have. We represent what I hope the contest represents, which is community spirit and community pride and coming together."