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Stanley Cup's arrival brings home reality of Hockeyville

by Brian Compton
TERRACE, British Columbia -- Jaws dropped. Eyes widened. Something that was once nothing more than a far-fetched fantasy became a reality on Sunday afternoon in this remote, hockey-crazed community.

Lord Stanley was in Terrace.

As soon as hockey's Holy Grail was put on display, quotes ranged from "Oh my God … there she is," to "This is unbelievable."

Heck, one resident even managed to crack a joke: "That's the closest anyone in a Canucks' jersey has ever been to the Stanley Cup."

Indeed, it was a phenomenal scene at George Little Park for the Stanley Cup Jamboree, as thousands gathered to have their pictures taken with the most prestigious trophy in all of sports and to receive autographs from NHL alumni members Cliff Ronning, Dave Babych, Bryan Trottier and Ken Morrow.

Without a doubt, all the hard work that thousands within the community put in over the last year to make Terrace the 2009 winner of Kraft Hockeyville has paid off and then some.

"I keep looking at it and thinking, 'That's pretty special to see,'" said Dave Pernarowski, the mayor of Terrace. "It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for Terrace. I think you can tell that the crowd that's here is pretty excited to see it."

It was the perfect way to build up for what should be pandemonium in this town on Monday night, when the Vancouver Canucks meet the New York Islanders to start the NHL preseason. For those who were unable to secure tickets for the game, they'll be able to watch on a big-screen television that has been set up in this park that sits just across the street from the Terrace Sportsplex.

"I don't know which spot will be more loud," Pernarowski said. "It's just going to be great. We're looking forward to it. This is one of those things where you just try to soak everything up and enjoy every moment."

A large portion of the tickets for Monday's game will go to the children in the community, which is exactly what Pernarowski and other town leaders were hoping for. With the city of Vancouver roughly 1,300 kilometers away, this may be the only time many Terrace residents will ever get to see the Canucks live.

"We have limited seating in our Sportsplex, so what we did was we come up with a way that nearly 75 percent of those seats will go to the children," Pernarowski said. "We think that will be a special moment for them. It will bring a lot of memories.

"People just jumped all over this," Pernarowski said of the Hockeyville competition. "It was a chance to show the rest of Canada what we're all about here -- our passion for hockey, our passion for where we live. It wasn't just one individual or a group of people. It was truly the entire town and our neighboring communities. Everybody worked together and it came to a successful conclusion."

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