stanley3It has been said for many times now, but it is still amazing how a country so small as Slovenia is able to “produce” some of the greatest athletes in the world. Ice-hockey being one such phenomena; struggling with finances and bad management decisions, demise of probably the most important club in the country, HK Jesenice, times are not looking good for this fastest team game in the world of sports. Yet, immense success of national team at this years Olympics and the continued success of Anže Kopitar in the world’s toughest ice-hockey league, the NHL, spark a little hope in these dark times.

And it is he, the Anže Kopitar, or as he is affectionately called Kopistar, that brings us, ice-hockey lovers, the biggest joys in this sport.

Kopi and his teammates won the second Stanley Cup in last 3 years, after a thrilling and exhausting playoff series. And that meant, Kopi will get a day to enjoy with the cup and his fans will get to see this famed trophy.

If you are interested in ice hockey and Anže Kopitar then you have probably seen that his home at Hrušica has got the Kopiwood sign, similar to the one over Los Angeles. Well, with the arrival of the Cup, Hrušica also received the Cup statue.

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While at first such event, Anže showed the Cup at his home village but the decision was made this year, to celebrate the arrival of the Cup at Podmežakla icering, the home of Slovenian ice hockey and the hall where Anže was learning the trades of this sport as a kid.

It didn’t matter much that this Sunday, parliamentary elections were taking places… a stream of cars was rolling towards all possible parking spaces around the hall, while a stream of fans was rolling in the opposite direction to meet their champion.

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Oh yeah, and FIFA World Cup final game was taking place that evening as well, so some came prepared!

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Larger number of people around the hall indicated a good turnout and hostesses were tasked to hand out the promotional flyers.

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Inside the hall, brass ensemble was playing their set of songs in eager anticipation of arrival…

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Young ice-hockey players of four major teams prepared the honorary guard

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…while the Hockey Hall of Fame representative prepared the table for the Cup.

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And then, much to the delight of crowds, Bailey arrived, mascot of LA Kings.

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He didn’t waste much time and soon hugged mascots of two of the event sponsors.

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With Bailey in the ring, the crowd knew that the Cup must be just around the corner.

And then the lights went off, red floodlights turned on (red being the home colour of Jesenice), and spotlight started following Anže, carrying the Cup through the honorary guard to the stage.

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Of course, a kiss of the Cup was obligatory!

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with the dimmed lights, the event first continued with the performance of a fire-eater.

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And followed by a short speach

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With his deepest thanks to all of us, who were spending the nights in this very hall and at home before TVs, watching the games and cheering for his team.

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He also received a plaque from Major of Jesenice – with Bailey’s approval!

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Kids played the final game of the in-line tournament. To the crowds delight, the home team won!

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After the game, Anže joined the kids with the Cup and they took some group photos while afterwards, each of the kids received a diploma from Bailey.

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Of course everyone got a chance to see the Cup a bit closer, but patience was the key, as several thousands of fans wanted the glimpse of it.

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Organization of the whole event was kindly speaking poor. However we all came to greet Anže and see the Cup, and we got that.

Stanley, see you again in two years???

Go Kings Go!!!

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