PORTLAND, Maine — Hockey fans had the chance to see the Stanley Cup up close and personal Friday night in Portland.
The fancy hardware was at the Cross Insurance Arena as the Maine Mariners took on the South Carolina Stingrays. Fans who bought tickets to the game were able to take pictures with the Cup.
The Cup is the oldest championship trophy in all of professional sports. It has been given to the NHL champion since 1926 -- a tradition lasting almost a century. Individual names of each player who wins the Cup are engraved on the trophy.
"I've always wanted to see the Cup. I can't tell you -- I just can't tell you how excited I am that I got to see it, and I got to touch it! I got to touch it," said Earl Baumgardner.
Players from the winning team of the championship take turns hoisting the Cup on the ice. The NHL affiliate of the South Carolina Stingrays, the Washington Capitals, are the most recent Stanley Cup champions.
Barry Trotz was the head coach of the Capitals at the time of their win. He was also the first coach of the Portland Pirates. The Pirates won the Calder Cup in his first season.
The last time the Stanley Cup was in Maine was when Brian Dumoulin of Biddeford brought it to town after he and the Pittsburgh Penguins won in 2016.
"I guess [the Cup was] here with the Pirates, but I don't think we've been here enough with the Maine fans that are here," said Phil Pritchard, the famed white-gloved handler of the Cup and vice president of the Hockey Hall of Fame. "It's part of [Maine's] culture and it would be great to be here more."
Maine fans were happy to have the Cup back Friday -- even if just for a quick picture.