It is a trophy that has made grown men cry in the past. And on Wednesday evening (Feb. 5), 17 awestruck Langley minor hockey players were graced by its presence.
Following the team’s loss at Twin Rinks, members of the Langley atom A4 Eagles went upstairs to the banquet room of the Thirsty Penguin under the guise that they were being recognized by Scotiabank for their off-ice work.
So the players — who are aged nine and 10 — filed into the room and sat down, ready to eat the post-game spread of sandwiches, veggies and cookies that were set out for them.
But then following a few words from Karen Johnson, the manager of the North Langley Scotiabank branch, the curtain dividing the room was pulled back to reveal the Stanley Cup — and the players were given the surprise of a lifetime.
There, in all its glory, stood the famed Stanley Cup, considered perhaps the hardest trophy to win in all of professional sports.
Jaws dropped for both players and parents, as only the Eagles’ head coach and team manager were in on the festivities.
The team was chosen through the ScotiaBank’s Surprise and Delight campaign.
The Scotiabank Community Sponsorship Program supports more than 5,000 minor hockey teams across the country and the campaign is recognizing five of its teams for their off-ice activities.
Langley was the second one to receive the visit.
The Eagles were chosen based on their actions back in November, when they spent a Saturday afternoon going door-to-door collecting food and money donations for the Langley Food Bank (The Times, Dec, 5).
In just over an hour, they collected 363 pounds of food and $375.
Johnson heard about the team’s off-ice efforts and they submitted the deed to Scotiabank and were selected.
“The Stanley Cup is such an iconic example of what can be accomplished through hard work, sportsmanship and determination,” Johnson said.
“We are proud to recognize the Eagles for what they achieved as a team, both on the ice and off, through their volunteer work.”
The team was treated to a special photo session where each player got the chance to pose with the fabled Cup.
The first thing Aiden Spakowski did was search out the name of Jason Williams, his second cousin who won the Cup with the Detroit Red Wings in 2002.
This was Spakowski’s second time seeing the Cup as he also saw it over the summer when the Chicago Blackhawks’ Patrick Sharp brought it to Thunder Bay, Ont.
“It feels really good,” Spakowski said, adding he might have trouble falling asleep.
And the next morning, his mom said he asked her if this was all a dream.
“At first, I thought it was fake,” admitted Gavin Collins.
“Then they told us it was real and I was just so excited.”
Connor Kirkpatrick called the night amazing and the highlight of his young life, so far.
“This is probably the only time I am ever going to touch it,” he admitted.
For Josh Henderson, he said this gives the Eagles something to brag about on the ice when they are up against the competition.
“An event like this is always great,” said Mike Bolt, the keeper of the Cup, who accompanies the Stanley Cup on its travels and makes sure the rules are followed. He has done so for the past 25 years, in his job with the Hockey Hall of Fame.
“That was one of the best reactions we have had in a long time,” Bolt said.
The Cup was originally supposed to arrive a few hours earlier, but weather delayed the flight from Toronto, so Bolt said he had plenty of time to think about what they could do, but was worried about not having enough time.
“For me, that reaction never gets old,” he said. “And the parents’ reaction was great too.”
“That is what is amazing about the Cup — it is for everybody,” he added.