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Hockeyville Canada

Stanley Cup arrives at Kraft Hockeyville

Lumby, British Columbia, celebrates with trophy

by Kevin Woodley / Correspondent

LUMBY, British Columbia -- When the Stanley Cup arrived here Saturday, it wasn't hard to see how the small logging town won Kraft Hockeyville 2016 in Canada.

As Keeper of the Cup Mike Bolt escorted the trophy to a community celebration with two members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police by his side, the line of people waiting to see the Cup ran 5-6 across, all the way around three edges of a large field adjacent to Pat Duke Memorial Arena, and out into the parking lot.

Considering Lumby has 1,731 residents, it was impressive to see more than 2,000 people waiting for a chance to take a picture with the Stanley Cup. That didn't include hundreds of children inside the arena taking part in on-ice clinics being led by NHL alumni including Eric Godard, Dean McAmmond, David Oliver, Fernando Pisani, Jerred Smithson and Aaron Volpatti.

"I expected a huge crowd, that's why we got here this early," said James Saxton, who showed up 90 minutes before the Cup arrived with his son Jack and was first in line.

Tweet from @keeperofthecup: 2016 #KraftHockeyville host Lumby, BC welcomes the #stanleycup @NHL @HockeyHallFame

Looking back at the huge crowd waiting behind them, Saxton was glad they came early.

"There has to be a few thousand people," he said.

Saxton and his son made the 25-minute drive east from Vernon, where the Los Angeles Kings and Edmonton Oilers will play a preseason game at Kal Tire Place on Sunday (9 p.m. ET; NHLN, SN). It's that support from neighboring communities in the interior of British Columbia that allowed Lumby to win Kraft Hockeyville in Canada and helps explain how there were more people at the celebration Saturday than there are in this small town.

"I'm not surprised, not with this community," said Godard, 36, who played minor hockey in Vernon before a 13-year career that included 335 NHL games with the New York Islanders, Calgary Flames and Pittsburgh Penguins. "The whole Okanagan is a really great place to raise a family, such good communities, and they'll really come together to support each other."

Video: Lumby, BC celebrates Kraft Hockeyville

On Saturday, they came together to see the Stanley Cup, but as a past winner Godard was the only one who got to raise it overhead, posing for pictures with friends, family and the Lumby organizing committee that helped make the Kraft Hockeyville win possible.

"My day with the Cup was the last time I got to hold it like that," said Godard, who won it with the Penguins in 2009. "It's a great trophy, and to actually get to lift it again is a great feeling."

Others settled for a photo, but there were plenty of other activities for families, including a bouncy castle, Kraft Dinner boxes that could be stacked like blocks, and live music.

Inside the aging Pat Duke Memorial Arena, which will receive $100,000 in upgrades for winning Kraft Hockeyville, skaters of all ages were playing games and working on their skills with former NHL players.

That type of direct interaction has always been a big part of all 10 years of Kraft Hockeyville.

"This is what it is all about, reaching out to different communities throughout our country and coming to a small town like Lumby and getting to reach out to some kids that wouldn't normally get the opportunity to meet guys who played in the NHL," said Pisani, 39, who played seven seasons with the Oilers and one with the Chicago Blackhawks before retiring in 2011. "It brings back a lot of memories for me as a kid, coming to the rink with my parents and just spending quality time that you look back on now and really appreciate."

Tweet from @NHL: Lord Stanley surprises never get old. #KraftHockeyville is underway in Lumby, BC.

Those memories were even more personal for Smithson, who grew up playing minor hockey in Vernon and remembers battling teams from Lumby at Pat Duke Memorial Arena.

"It brings back good memories," said Smithson, 37, who played 606 NHL games over 14 seasons with the Kings, Florida Panthers, Nashville Predators, Oilers and Toronto Maple Leafs. "These kids work so hard and deserve so much, and for us guys who are from in and around this area that are no longer playing, it is a lot of fun to come out and give back and pass the torch to them and teach them a few things. And the way some of these guys can stickhandle, they might be teaching us a few things as well. There's a lot of skill out here."

Seeing the kids out on the ice and families posing with the Stanley Cup brought smiles and tears for Rhonda Catt, whose husband Peter Catt, a longtime local coach and player, died of a heart attack at age 46 last November, sparking the community to rally behind Kraft Hockeyville in his memory.

"It is an amazing community with amazing people and it is overwhelming," Rhonda said. "I am proud to be from Lumby, and I know if my husband was here to see it, he would be blown away by it all."

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