Hockey Hall of Fame - Stanley Cup Journals: 37
The Stanley Cup Journal

Duck turned Devil, Jeff Friesen centred
his Loon Lake celebration at the unique cottage of family friend, Joyce Walsh.
(September 1, 2003) — Labour Day 2003. A day to celebrate hard work. And there's no more appropriate candidate for the celebration of hard work than Jeff Friesen. Last June 9, Friesen, who had been secured in a pre-season deal by New Jersey from the Anaheim Mighty Ducks, collected two of the Devils' three goals in a 3-0 Stanley Cup championship win and was named Third Star of that spotlighted contest.

After nine NHL seasons, Jeff Friesen would finally be able to live out his childhood dream. With the Stanley Cup visiting Western Canada, Jeff rubbed his hands together in glee - he would get his turn with the Stanley Cup on Wednesday, August 27!

The Stanley Cup arrived in the northwestern Saskatchewan town of Loon Lake just about the same time as Jeff Friesen, who drove in from Edmonton, Alberta. It's been quite a summer for Friesen - the Stanley Cup, his wedding earlier this summer and his 27th birthday on August 5th. Jeff drove in to celebrate with his new bride, Rhonda, as well as his mother Judy and Dad, Darrell. With Stanley Cup in tow, the Friesens drove to the home of family friend, Joyce Walsh. Joyce lives in a fabulous cabin. Constructed of three-foot logs and cement, the cabin is round - a unique place to celebrate a unique event.

Jeff Friesen visited the local RCMP station
to say hello to some old friends.
The group first sat down to a steak dinner, then drank margaritas right out of the Cup, although no one thought to put salt on the rim. The party continued until six Thursday morning, and after just three hours sleep, the Friesens were up enjoying Joyce's breakfast of eggs, ham and cheese with a layer of cornflakes on top.

After breakfast, a limousine driven by family friend Darcy Thomas pulled up in front of the Walsh cabin. This vehicle doubles as the final ride for those exiting the J.E. Thomas Funeral Home in Meadow Lake. The limo drove the Friesens and the Stanley Cup to Jeff's hometown, which is also Meadow Lake.

The first stop in town was the Royal Canadian Mounted Police station. Although some will think of the stereotypical Canadian Mountie as Dudley Dooright in his crimson tunic and cut jawline, Jeff found the visit very social as one of his former junior teammates with the Regina Pats now works for the local RCMP.

It was Friesen in the Meadow Lake Arena, as Jeff returned to his minor hockey roots.
From 2:00 until six, Friesen sat in the Meadow Lake Arena, signing autographs and getting his picture taken with the Stanley Cup. Jeff played his minor hockey there, and his father coached there, too. All the money raised through the afternoon went towards the minor hockey program as well as upgrading the arena. More than 1,500 fans came out to say hello to Jeff Friesen.

Afterwards, there was a dinner for 300 at the Civic Centre. Guests dined on fine Alberta beef, never for a moment fearing any problems with quality. As the plates were being cleared and coffee served, Jeff was brought up on stage and posed with the Stanley Cup as dozens of flashbulbs temporarily blinded him. "I have to tell you how thankful I am for what you folks back home have done for me. This means a lot to me."

Jeff brought a number of his junior teammates back to the cabin on Loon Lake to share stories and the Stanley Cup experience.
At the conclusion of the banquet, around midnight, Joyce Walsh invited Jeff and his wife, Jeff's parents as well as a number of his junior teammates back to the cabin on Loon Lake. The party continued there until well into the morning hours of a new day.

Throughout his hockey career, Jeff Friesen has demonstrated that he knows all about working hard, but when the time is right, it's also appropriate to play hard off the ice. And when you're celebrating your birthday, your marriage and the winning of the Stanley Cup, all the elements were in place for a terrific celebration!

On Wednesday, the Stanley Cup Journal will take readers on a whirlwind trip to North Battleford, Saskatchewan with netminder, Corey Schwab.

Kevin Shea writes hockey stories from Toronto, and is excited about the upcoming hockey season.

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