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The Stanley Cup goes to Innisfail, Alta, the hometown of the Colorado Avalanche’s assistant head coach.OUS News

It was a special day for Ray Bennett, assistant coach of the Colorado Avalanche NHL team, when he brought the Stanley Cup to his hometown of Innisfail, Alta.

On Monday, hundreds of locals lined up outside the Innisfail Twin Arena to take pictures with the legendary hockey trophy that the Avalanche won this year.

The team’s assistant coach grew up in Innisfail, about 100 kilometers north of Calgary, played field hockey and graduated from local high school in 1980. Bennett also played for the senior hockey team Innisfail Eagles.

Bringing the cup home was special for Bennett.

Bennett says it was an easy and quick decision to bring the Stanley Cup to Innisfail after his team won the trophy. (Dan McGarvey/CBC)

“I am proud to have grown up in this community,” he said.

“When the opportunity arose to bring him back here after the victory, it was an easy and very quick decision,” he said.

Bennett began coaching in the NHL in 1999. He spent seven seasons with the Los Angeles Kings, then 10 with the St. Louis Blues before joining the Avalanche for the last five seasons.

The chance of a lifetime

For the many residents who lined up to see the cup, this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that they should have taken advantage of.

Everett Olsen said that on Monday morning he heard that the cup was approaching the city and he knew he had to get to the arena immediately.

The Stanley Cup, which dates back to 1892, arrived in Innisfail on Monday. (Dan McGarvey/CBC)

“Everyone wants to be with the Stanley Cup at least once in their life,” he said.

Rob Hamill, another resident of the city, said he attended Red Deer College with Bennett in the 1980s. Hamill said being able to stand next to the cup feels special to any Canadian.

“As a kid, you never got the chance to see a cup, so that’s cool,” he said.

As for Bennett, he will cherish the moment of owning the trophy.

Innisfail resident Everett Olsen says everyone wants to see the Stanley Cup at least once in their life. (Dan McGarvey/CBC)

“It took me 23 years of coaching in the NHL to be able to raise [my] head, he said.

“You don’t take it for granted.”