Credits: Alex Urosevic/Toronto Sun/QMI Agency
WINNIPEG -- Members of a Selkirk, Man., kids hockey squad got the surprise of their young lives Sunday.
Before practice, they burst through a dressing room door at the East Selkirk Arena, northeast of Winnipeg, to discover the freshly polished Stanley Cup awaiting them.
"Awesome!" the Selkirk Steelers 11 A1 players shouted.
"It's just amazing to go up there and see it," Asha Gurney said. "I didn't think it was quite that big. Wow!"
The players had no idea that the symbol of the NHL championship would be there for them to touch, read names of past winners and get their photos taken with it.
"It felt pretty weird," Cristiano Rodriguez said. "It was very surprising because I never thought I would see the Stanley Cup."
It was a thrill for them just to touch the real thing.
"Pretty cool," Rodriguez said. "Just the way it felt, it's such a big thing for me."
Mani Cook was still getting over the Stanley surprise.
"Oh, I was very shocked," he said. "I was, like, really shocked.
"I'd never seen it before and that was my first time, so that was really cool."
Five lucky teams across the country were drawn at random to get the visit, as part of the Scotiabank Community Hockey Sponsorship Program.
"That's really crazy to have our team celebrate with the Stanley Cup," Gurney said.
"It's an unbelievable experience," Steelers head coach Todd Cook said. "It's something that they're never gonna forget for the rest of their lives.
"It just about brought tears to my eyes, just seeing how happy they are and it's just an experience that not too many kids get on a day like this. So, I'm just going to let them all soak it in.
"It's all about the kids and this is great for minor hockey."
He was just as thrilled as the kids.
"Just to touch the Cup myself, I had to get in there," Cook, 50, said. "It's been a dream of mine ever since I was a three- or four-year-old out playing street hockey on the road and stuff. Everybody's out there playing for the Stanley Cup."
Cook had to keep the surprise secret for two weeks.
"It was the hardest two weeks I've ever had," he said. "I had to sit in my office thinking about how the kids are going to think about a day like this and it kind of brought tears to my eyes thinking about the experience."