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Centennial Fan Arena

Snow, fans greet Centennial Fan Arena in Winnipeg

Thousands turn out to see Stanley Cup, touring hockey museum

by Scott Billeck / NHL.com Correspondent

WINNIPEG -- Snow clogged the streets of downtown Winnipeg but didn't stop about 4,500 fans from experiencing the NHL Centennial Fan Arena at Bell MTS Place, home of the Winnipeg Jets, on Friday.

If anything, the snow and the wintry scene it produced may have encouraged more people to attend the festivities, which included and a chance to touch the Stanley Cup. Most put an arm around it, others gave it a hug, and some even refused to touch it out of superstition. 

Ryan Kipling and 8-year-old son Nixon not only saw the Stanley Cup up close, but got to kiss it. 

"We've never seen it before, first time, so it was pretty special," Ryan Kipling said. "We're big Jets fans, the Cup is here. Why wouldn't we be here?

"It was pretty cool to touch the Cup." 

Fans lined up early for a picture with the Stanley Cup, and the line lasted until the start of the game between the Jets and the Vegas Golden Knights at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. The game was shown on a giant screen. 

"It's like a big movie theatre in here," Nixon said. 

Elsewhere, fans got a chance to go head-to-head with friends to see who could clean a sheet of ice faster in the Clear The Ice Zamboni VR Experience. Kids played ball hockey against the Jets mascot, Mickey Moose, in a pop-up rink. 

Other fans lined up to enter the 53-foot museum truck, with more than 1,000 square feet of interactive digital displays, memorabilia and unique photo moments. 

One popular display showed the evolution of the hockey stick. It included a one-piece wooden stick from the 1910s and Wayne Gretzky's silver-and-black aluminum stick from his time with the Los Angeles Kings. 

The museum also had an interactive Stanley Cup feature with a touch screen that allowed fans to zoom in on specific years, names and photos of Cup winners from the NHL's 100-year history.

"We wanted to motivate our kids to play hockey and learn about it," said Simmy Duggal, who came with her husband, Ravi, and two sons, 7-year-old Anshuman and 5-year-old Ruhaan. 

Simmy and Ravi came to Canada from India 17 years ago. 

"We're from Canada now, we're Canadian, and we want our kids to love what Canadians love: hockey," Ravi said.

The NHL Centennial Fan Arena will again be at Bell MTS Place on Saturday before heading to Montreal (Bell Centre and Windsor Station) on Nov. 18-19. For more information and the most up-to-date schedule of events, visit nhl.com/fanarena

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