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Centennial Fan Arena

NHL Centennial Fan Arena visits Ottawa

Fans visit for chance to see rare memorabilia, take pictures with Stanley Cup

by Chris Stevenson / Correspondent

OTTAWA -- A cold wind blew outside Canadian Tire Centre on Thursday and the cheeks of 15-month-old Blake Boken, who was being held by his father, Dan, were a rosy red.

The Bokens, along with mom Leah, were the first in line to experience the NHL Centennial Fan Arena, an interactive traveling fan experience visiting all NHL markets across North America in 2017. The NHL Centennial Fan Arena is part of the League's Centennial Celebration, honoring a century's worth of extraordinary players and teams, remarkable plays and unforgettable moments. 

Blake was being kept warm under his snowsuit with a Toronto Maple Leafs jersey and Maple Leafs socks.

"His favorite book is 'M is for Maple Leafs,'" Leah said. "He's a big Leafs fan already and he doesn't even really know what that means yet."

The exhibit will shift to Aberdeen Pavilion at Lansdowne Park (1000 Exhibition Way) on Saturday and Sunday. It is open from noon-6 p.m. ET Saturday and noon-10:30 p.m. on Sunday.

There also will be a viewing party for the Ottawa Senators game at the Montreal Canadiens on Sunday, beginning at 7:30 p.m. ET.

The NHL Centennial Fan Arena features the museum truck, the entertainment truck, The Rink (a pop-up ball hockey rink) and the Clear the Ice Zamboni VR Experience, which allows fans from across North America to compete against each other in a race to resurface the ice, in a virtual reality setting.

Fans will take a seat in a mini-Zamboni ice resurfacer, feel cool air on their skin and their seat rumble as they are tasked with creating a virtual perfect sheet of ice. All races will be timed and shared on a leaderboard.

In addition to celebrating the League's centennial, the NHL Centennial Fan Arena's visit to Ottawa also will recognize the 25th anniversary of the Senators and the 125th anniversary of the Stanley Cup.

The Rogers Hometown Hockey Tour also will be part of the festivities and will be located outside the Aberdeen Pavilion.

"We heard about this on Rogers Hometown Hockey on Sunday and we had to come," Dan Boken said. "We both watched the top 100 players on the All-Star Weekend. That was really cool. We're both diehard fans."

The Boken family toured the 53-foot museum truck, which features an innovative interior with more than 1,000 square feet of interactive digital displays, original video content, historical memorabilia and special Senators content, including a chance for a photo in a replica of the Senators locker room.

Leah said her favorite feature was an interactive Stanley Cup.

"It was cool because you could zoom in and look at the names," she said. "I like that. There were lots of flashing lights and fun stuff for Blake too. He liked it."

Said Dan, "I like the sticks and the old equipment, and the virtual Cup was kind of neat too."

William Ward and Jessica Tourigny made the trip from Montreal to check out the Centennial Fan Arena.

"It was kind of cool. It was like a little Hall of Fame," Ward said.

A Montreal Canadiens fan, he said he appreciated a helmet autographed by former Canadiens captain Jean Beliveau.

The Bokens said they'll be heading to the Aberdeen Pavilion on the weekend to check out the real Stanley Cup.

The Cup will be in Ottawa to commemorate the donation of the trophy by Lord Stanley of Preston, the sixth Governor General of Canada, to the Ottawa Hockey Club on March 18, 1892. This historic milestone is a cornerstone of the Senators' 25th NHL season, as well as the League's centennial festivities.

The Stanley Cup will be on display from 12-5 p.m. ET on Saturday and from 12-7 p.m. ET on Sunday.

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