Los Angeles Kings forward Tanner Pearson grew up playing minor-league hockey in Kitchener, Ontario. He returned there as a champion Sunday when he brought the Stanley Cup to Civic Square in front of Kitchener City Hall before an estimated crowd of nearly 2,000 people, according to the Waterloo Region Record.
Fans lined up to have their photo taken with the Cup, meet Pearson, and play interactive games presented by Kitchener Minor Hockey and the Kitchener Rangers with donations being collected to benefit the Ronald McDonald House in Hamilton, Ontario.
"It was a dream come true," Pearson told the Record. "It's an honor to be able to bring it back. It's pretty special to celebrate it with the people that you grew up with. It's a great turnout."
Pearson enjoyed a similar experience as a kid when Joe McDonnell, the former director of amateur scouting for the Detroit Red Wings, brought the Cup to Kitchener in 2008.
"Being a young kid, it was pretty cool," Pearson said. "I was one of these kids. Hopefully [they'll] dream to win it one day."
Pearson, 21, was drafted by the Kings with the 30th pick of the 2012 NHL Draft and played 25 games for Los Angeles last season. He had four goals and eight assists in 24 postseason games, a run that culminated with the Kings' victory against the New York Rangers in the Stanley Cup Final.
"It's an unbelievable feeling what Tanner's accomplished, and to see him come into Kitchener and bring the Cup back to the fans and the people that were influential in his hockey career, yeah, we're really happy with the turnout today," Tim Pearson, Tanner's father, told CTV News in Kitchener.
In addition to stops at City Hall and the Kitchener Memorial Auditorium Complex, Pearson had the Cup with him while he and friends played a game of ball hockey.
"It was a pretty fun time," he said.