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Long lines at REA isn’t deterring hockey fans

GRAND FORKS — Kathy and Nathan Britten weren’t expecting the line to be as long as it was Tuesday when they pulled up to the Ralph Engelstad Arena in Grand Forks.

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The two lifelong hockey fans had just finished their 65-mile drive from Karlstad, Minn., when they joined the thousands of people waiting in line to see, touch and take pictures with the Stanley Cup.

The famous hockey trophy was brought to town by Matt Greene, former University of North Dakota hockey player and current defenseman for the Los Angeles Kings. It was scheduled to be on display at the REA from 12 to 3 p.m.

People began standing in line long before the noon showing began. At 1 p.m., the line wound from the arena’s door out to a bus stop about 1,000 feet away.

“We’re kind of old, we might not make it to the end of this line,” Kathy, 68, joked.

She and Nathan, 73, sported matching Zach Parise T-shirts. Parise is another UND hockey player who now plays for the Minnesota Wild and was Greene’s roommate in the dorms.

The couple said they watch all UND hockey players who are now with professional teams.

While the Brittens sought shade under their umbrella, kids played soccer on a nearby field in the 80-degree heat while parents stood waiting. Some groups appointed runners to grab food and water.

The line didn’t seem too bad to four 16-year-old Red River High School students who had arrived at 11:45 a.m. and had made it to the start of the arena’s walkway about an hour later.

Garrett Huus, Mike Sandry, Justin Andrade and Jaeden Holt said they are big UND hockey fans.

“It kind of the dream, to go to college and play for the Sioux,” Huus said.

The plan when the group was finally inside was to take a picture with the trophy — or maybe even kiss it, one joked. The significance of the cup to the young men goes without saying, but can be summed up in four words.

“It’s the Stanley Cup,” Holt said.