CORNISH, Maine — Hockey fans from around Maine and New Hampshire converged on the 1,200-person town of Cornish Wednesday night for a glimpse of the NHL’s Stanley Cup, one of the most recognizable trophies in professional sports.
The Boston Bruins won the title in June, defeating the Vancouver Canucks in a seven-game series, 4-3. As champions, each member of the Bruins organization gets to spend a day with the massive silver chalice, and Vice President of Finance Jim Bednarek elected to bring the trophy to Krista’s restaurant in Cornish.
Wednesday represented the first time the Stanley Cup was displayed in Maine since the Bruins won it. The title was Boston’s first since 1972.
Krista Lair, restaurant owner, said Bednarek owns a home nearby and is a regular at her Main Street eatery.
“He and his wife come here all the time,” Lair said Wednesday night. “They wanted to make Cornish — they love it here, they love the town — part of their day [with the Cup]. I was blown away.”
Lair said restaurant regulars put their names in a drawing for tables inside the restaurant during the event, and the lucky ones were given special tickets and closer access to the Stanley Cup, which was scheduled to arrive at the venue after 7 p.m.
All other members of the public were invited to attend a barbecue outside the restaurant, and those in attendance were told the Cup would be periodically brought outside and walked through the barbecue area.
Logan Nee, 19, is a Cornish native and a student of the University of Maine at Orono. Nee made the three-plus-hour trek from school to the restaurant, where he worked as a high schooler. His twin brother, Liam, and another friend traveled with Nee to see the trophy.
Logan Nee said people from his town will be talking about Wednesday night’s festivities for decades.
“It’s one of those stories we’ll be telling 30 years from now,” he said. “We’ll be talking about how, 30 years ago, the Stanley Cup came here.”
Liam Nee said he hoped all the attention would have a lasting effect for the town and Krista’s.
“It’s such a gem in this town,” Liam Nee said of the restaurant. “Hopefully, it puts [Lair] on the map. People are traveling to be here.”
Deputies from the York County Sheriff’s Office blocked off the street around Krista’s, and students from Sacopee Valley High School raised money for student programs by running a satellite parking lot at the Cornish Fairgrounds down the street and providing bus shuttle runs to the restaurant.
“I’ve been waiting for this,” said Zach Vanderwerf, a Morse High School freshman from West Bath, who came to the event with his niece, Abby. “It’s been 39 years. That thing’s been through a lot of history.”
To clarify, it has been 39 years since the Bruins last won the title, not 39 years that Vanderwerf has been waiting.
“It means a lot,” said Chris Gillespie, from nearby Parsonsfield, who came to Krista’s with his wife and two young kids. “After watching hockey for 25 years and seeing the Bruins fall short time after time. All 30 NHL teams fight for (the Stanley Cup), so we should see it while it’s close to us. We get a chance to see what they’re all fighting so hard for.”
An early version of this story requires correction. The twin brothers' last name is Nee.