CORNISH — The biggest sports happening in Southern Maine this week occurred, not on a lime-lined athletic field, but on a tree-lined street street in a sleepy little corner of York County.
Hundreds of folks, young and old, guys and gals, most of them decked out in Boston Bruins Black ‘n’ Gold, streamed into downtown Cornish to get a glimpse of the Stanley Cup.
Yep, the same Stanley Cup that was hoisted to the rafters in Vancouver by gigantic captain Zdeno Chara in June when the B’s emptied the closet of 39 years of ghosts.
The same Cup that took a tumble in Newfoundland when (now former) Bruin Michael Ryder brought it to his home province for a day.
This time, Stanley was in the firm grip of Jim Bednarek, the Bruins’ Vice-President of Finance, who lugged hockey’s biggest bauble to Cornish, where he owns a vacation home.
Bednarek brought the Cup to Krista’s Restaurant, a favorite eatery of his.
Krista Lair, the restaurant’s owner, was not much of a Bruins fan. That is, she wasn’t before all of this attention spilled into her parking lot.
“Now I am,” she said.
As with all Bruins’ players and upper management, Bednarek got to spend a day with the Cup and split it between his primary home in Hopkinton, Mass., and the leafy burgh he plans to retire to.
It was Stanley’s only appearance in Vacationland, and up until Wednesday, Maine was the only one of the six New England states that had gone without.
That was a slight that stuck in the craw of many of the state’s hockey fanatics.
However Bednarek said it was simply the best being saved for last.
“I knew I was going to be batting cleanup,” said Bednarek, “on the end of the tour. I knew we were going to be coming up here, so of course Maine would be on the tour. This is part of the Bruins community.”
A community with Lord Stanley as its mayor.
Among its loyal subjects is Brianna McClintock, who brought her four young children from Hope, on the Mid-Coast.
If you were there, you would have noticed them.
That was the quarter of well-behaved youngsters who waited so patiently for more than four hours for the Cup to come.
The oldest, 8-year-old Levi, was decked out in the sweater of his favorite Bruin, Patrice Bergeron.
He clutched a replica of the Cup, homemade by his mother for his eighth birthday party three weeks earlier.
“It worked out good that we could take it with us,” said McClintock.
There was probably no taking it from him.
As hockey players often hail from mere dots on a map from all over the globe, the Stanley Cup has been hosted by tinier hamlets than Cornish.
Even so, for it to have made to this little community was truly a big deal.
“Because it’s such a small town,” said McClintock’s mother, Kendra McLaughlin of Waterboro, “you wouldn’t expect it to be here. So it was really nice for us folks to be able to come here and see it.”
Veteran writer Dan Hickling has covered sports from preps to the pros throughout Maine and beyond. He can be reached at email@example.com).