OTTAWA -- Allison Clarke had one wish for the 2017 Scotiabank NHL100 Centennial Classic on Saturday: a win by the Montreal Canadiens.
She certainly asked the right person to make it happen.
Clarke and Chris Masaki, each 29, from Toronto paid a visit to Santa Claus in the North Pole exhibit at The Pregame, the official 2017 Scotiabank NHL100 Classic Fan Festival, hours before their beloved Canadiens played the Ottawa Senators in the first outdoor game of the 2017-18 NHL season.
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The North Pole was one of dozens of family-friendly exhibits at the two-day indoor/outdoor official tailgate party in Aberdeen Pavilion and Aberdeen Square, a mere slapshot away from Lansdowne Park, the site of the game. The Pregame is free of charge and will be open from 11 a.m. - 3 p.m. on Sunday.
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"It's pretty awesome," said Clarke, who arrived in Ottawa from Toronto on Friday with Masaki. "I'm glad it's not all outside. It's pretty cold out."
Despite the chilly temperatures, there were as many fans outside as there were inside, trying out games of skill, including the Clear the Ice Zamboni Virtual Reality Experience and checking out the Centennial Fan Arena, an interactive traveling fan experience that has made 36 stops and traveled more than 55,000 miles since its debut in Toronto at the NHL Centennial Classic on Dec. 30, 2016.
The star of the show at The Pregame was the Stanley Cup, with fans lining up to get their photo taken with hockey's greatest prize.
Senators fans from Ottawa Andre Khouri, 32, and his wife, Cathy, 33, posed for a photo with the Cup, but, of course, didn't touch it.
"I've seen it before at the Hockey Hall of Fame, but it's always amazing to see it, up close and personal," Andre said. "I'm superstitious, so I won't touch it."
Andre, who has been to every Senators home playoff game since 1998, said he would have tempted fate had the Senators won the Stanley Cup last season; they lost in seven games to the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Eastern Conference Final.
"Until we win it [the Stanley Cup], I'm not touching it," he said.
Cathy grew up a Canadiens fan in Montreal but switched allegiances to the Senators when she met Andre nine years ago. "I didn't have much of a choice," she said.
Although they may have different rooting interests than Clarke and Masaki, everyone agreed The Pregame and the NHL100 Classic was a top-notch event.
"Stuff like this, having all this pregame stuff is pretty fun," Clarke said.
"It's a great event, there's always a lot of talk about these outdoor games and how great they are," Andre said, "being at one is awesome."
Following Sunday, the Fan Arena will be at Yonge-Dundas Square in Toronto on Tuesday, then head to Madison Square Park in New York City on Dec. 27-28. Its final stop will be at Citi Field in New York for the 2018 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic on Jan. 1.