Talk about an entrance.
The MasterCard Memorial Cup landed in Red Deer via a CH146 Griffon helicopter before the coveted hockey hardware was given a military escort to Veterans’ Park for the arrival ceremony.
Hockey fans — mostly donning Rebels’ jerseys or hats — lined the streets to watch the military parade.
But it is the anticipated first drop of the puck that has fans pumped and ready for some action.
Diehard hockey fan Steve Sands said watching the national major junior hockey championships will be a dream come true.
Sands said it has been a long road to get here but he is thrilled the day has finally arrived.
“It’s going to be some good hockey,” he said.
Rebel season ticket holders Marina and Stan Walker will not miss a single game in the series. Stan said he is looking forward to seeing some of the best young hockey talent in Canada.
Marina said the is a fantastic opportunity for the city and hopes more sporting events will come to Red Deer.
While they are proud home team supporters, Marina is originally from London so she will be throwing some of her support behind the Knights if the Rebels get eliminated.
Kelly Wells said this tournament will put Red Deer on the map and showcase Red Deer’s sportsmanship and true spirit.
Mayor Tara Veer told the crowd that not only is hockey a Canadian game, it is Red Deer’s game. She encouraged the 150 attendees to have fun and enjoy the events at Fan Fest and Molson Canadian Hockey House and throughout the city for the next 10 days.
Fan Fest is open four hours before the puck drops and is free to the public everyday in Parkland Pavilion in Westerner Park. The Molson Canadian Hockey House is open post-game. Featured acts include Brett Kissel (May 20), 9 Second Ride (May 21); Kelly Taylor and The Mud Men (May 22); Kelly Taylor and Bryan Trottier (May 23); Medisinal (May 24) and St. James’ Gate (May 25).
Check www.mastercardmemorialcup.ca for full details including start times.