Fans line up to meet NHL player Joe Motzko and see the Stanley Cup
When Avery Goeddertz, 7, scored the game-winning goal in the final seconds of his youth hockey game Wednesday night, he turned to his father and said, "See, Dad, I'm just like Joe Motzko."
Avery was beaming Thursday afternoon, after having had his picture taken alongside Motzko and the Stanley Cup, the National Hockey League's treasured trophy.
Motzko, a member of the 2007 NHL championship Anaheim Ducks, brought the cup to Bemidji, his hometown, and shared it with fans Thursday afternoon at the Bemidji Community Arena.
"It was cool," Avery said. He thought that maybe the cup would be bigger than he is, but it wasn't quite that tall.
Nicole Hopkins, 19, of International Falls, wasn't thrilled to hear her mother tell her Wednesday night that they would be coming to Bemidji on Thursday.
But that all changed when she heard why they were making the trip. Hopkins, who plays goalie for Rainy River Community College, said seeing the Stanley Cup in person was unbelievable.
"I've seen it on TV, but this is really cool," said Hopkins, who has played hockey for 10 years.
The Stanley Cup was set under a tent in front of the Bemidji Community Arena with Motzko at its side. Fans lined up halfway down the parking lot, waiting for their chance to see and touch the trophy. Motzko smiled for countless pictures and some lucky fans got his autograph.
Kelsey Merk, 13, and Kiah Hartung, 14, both of Bemidji, said it was "pretty cool" to see the cup in person.
"It's an amazing piece of history to have land here in Bemidji," said Kiah's mom, Tammi Hartung.
"It has 100 years of tradition," Kelsey said.
Neither of the girls play hockey, but they "watch it all the time."
The picture of the girls with the Stanley Cup is likely to turn a few family members green with envy: Kiah's brother is at hockey camp at the University of North Dakota, and Tammi Hartung said her dad, who lives in Washington, is a big hockey fan.
Brandon Carlson, 13, of Bemidji said the experience was "awesome," although he had seen the cup last year at the Bemidji Town and Country Club.
Nick Mannausau, 7, and his brother, Nathan, 4, seemed impressed by the Stanley Cup. Nick said he has been playing hockey for two years, and they, too, had their picture taken.
"It was good," said Nick, who said he was not surprised by its size.
Noah Nei, 8, has been playing hockey for four years. He was lucky and arrived early in the afternoon, only having to wait in line about 15 minutes. Noah said the Stanley Cup was cool, and that it was bigger than he had expected.
Mike Rasmussen, 16, moved to Bemidji two years ago. He said it was the first time he had seen the Stanley Cup.
"It's pretty nice, impressive," he said.
Mike said it was cool that someone from Bemidji was a part of the team that won the trophy - and chose to bring it back to his hometown.
Jared Bergquist, 17, of Bemidji, would have agreed. Although Thursday marked his "fourth or fifth time" seeing the Stanley Cup, what made this viewing special, he said, was that it came to Bemidji with Motzko, who is the first Bemidji native to have his name engraved on the Stanley Cup.
According to tradition, each member of the NHL championship team gets to have possession of the Stanley Cup for 24 hours. It has been to the White House, the Kremlin, and has appeared on TV shows such as the Tonight Show with Jay Leno and the Late Show with Dave Letterman. The Stanley Cup is just less than 3 feet tall and weighs about 35 pounds.
After sharing the cup with fans Thursday afternoon, Motzko planned to show it off at a gathering at the home of his parents, Steve and Kay. He also was thinking about bringing it to "a pub or two."
Bemidji State University students Danielle Reich, 20, and Heather Barber, 20, said they are big hockey fans, having seen every one of the BSU men's home games this past season.
They waited in line to get a picture - and then waited a little longer to try to get Motzko's autograph.
The two were so set on seeing the cup that they actually skipped work on Thursday.
"I wasn't disappointed," Barber said.
"It was awesome," Reich said. "It was more beat up than I expected."
"Yeah, it's been out partying a few times," Barber added.