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Centennial Fan Arena

NHL Centennial Fan Arena a hit in first stop

Thousands of fans in Arizona tour museum truck, drive interactive Zamboni and take photos with Stanley Cup

by Jerry Brown / Correspondent

TEMPE, Ariz. -- The interactive goggles took up more than half his face, but you could still see young Rylan Dingles had his mouth agape as he steered his 'Zamboni,' trying to cover as much area as he could with a new sheet of ice.

"That was so cool!" Rylan said. "That's the best thing we've done. It was so realistic. I've never driven a Zamboni before, but I feel like I did."

The smiles were repeated at every booth and display as the NHL Centennial Fan Arena began its tour of North America at Tempe Marketplace on Saturday. Thousands of fans toured the 53-foot museum truck, played ball hockey on a pop-rink and took turns driving the virtual Zamboni or posing with the Stanley Cup.

Jacob Giger searched the Cup for his favorite Pittsburgh Penguins players before posing for a picture with his sons, Beckham, 7, and Gavin, 10.

The kids were born exactly three years apart, both on a Sunday when the Pittsburgh Steelers won the Super Bowl. But the Penguins are their No. 1 team - they were wearing matching Sidney Crosby jerseys - and their hour-long wait in line paid off before they had to head to their hockey practice.

"It was amazing to see the Cup, our team was on it," Beckham said. "We kissed it."

Arizona Coyotes fan Colin Reeves posed with the Cup as his parents Mike and Amanda snapped photos. "We're going to the museum next," Colin said. "They have a Coyotes locker in there. I want to see that."

Winnipeg natives Rob and Destiny Ferrand took their son Matthew through the museum and marveled at the displays, from the 100-year timeline to the old gloves and helmets. They signed their names to a board at the end of the display.

"As soon as we got out, Matthew said, 'I want to go to the Hall of Fame and see everything.' So this was a great introduction for him," Rob said. "If this comes to Winnipeg, it will take a week to get everyone who wants to see this through."

But the longest line, more than 100 yards long and snaking around the other exhibits, was reserved for the Stanley Cup. Chicago native Tim Modjeski just moved to Arizona and was overjoyed to hear the Cup was in town.

"I've been chasing Lord Stanley down for years and it took me moving down to Arizona to get a chance to see and touch it," said Modjeski, whose hands were shaking a bit as he searched for Blackhawks names from their three recent titles to snap more photos. "It's great to see all the Arizona folks get excited for hockey. All the kids in their team jerseys … it's really cool."

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