Hockey Hall of Fame - Stanley Cup Journals: 2009, 20

Alex proudly hoisting the Stanley Cup in front of the outdoor rink he used to play on while growing up in Grand Rapids, Minnesota.
(Mike Bolt/HHOF)
Birthdays are always special, whether you're 24 or 94. But imagine achieving your childhood dream by playing in the National Hockey League, winning the Stanley Cup and being told that you can have a belated birthday present from the team by getting to take the Stanley Cup home for a day. Alex Goligoski…welcome to your life!

Alex turned 24 on July 30, and his birthday gift from the Penguins arrived at his home in Grand Rapids, Minnesota on Wednesday, August 19.

Goligoski was selected in the second round of the 2004 NHL Entry Draft by the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2004 while still in high school and starring in the USHL.

Alex along with family and friends pretending to ice-fish out of the bowl of the Stanley Cup.
(Mike Bolt/HHOF)
He chose to attend college, and played hockey for the Gophers while attending the University of Minnesota, where he was a First Team All-Star in 2007 before turning professional with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, Pittsburgh's American Hockey League affiliate, in 2007-08. That season, he got called up to the big club for 3 games and collected 2 assists from his blueline post.

This past season, Alex split the season between Pittsburgh and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. It certainly didn't hurt that coach Dan Byslma had been Alex's AHL coach and knew what the young defenceman could do. While deep in blueline talent, injuries gave Goligoski a chance to step in the NHL spotlight and show what he could do. He didn't disappoint.

Alex sharing a moment with his neighbour. (Mike Bolt/HHOF)
Alex spent the morning with his family and close friends, enjoying quiet time with the greatest trophy in sports. He wanted to thank Grand Rapids for the support he had received through his career, so took the Cup to the IRA Civic Center for a hometown autograph signing, meeting family, friends and fans and, in the process, raising money through donations for Grand Rapids Youth Hockey, the system through which he graduated.

Alex decided to have an impromptu party, inviting friends to enjoy his Stanley Cup celebration in the garage at his Dad's house. "It's kinda surreal right now," he said while pretending to be ice-fishing out of the Cup. "It's an unbelievable feeling, and really cool to have it for the day."

Deciding to share the exultation with the town, Alex finished the evening by taking the Stanley Cup to a couple of his favourite establishments, where locals rejoiced at the opportunity to get near hockey's greatest trophy.

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Eric stopped for an autograph/photograph session at the Vernon Okanagan Boys and Girls Club.
(Walt Neubrand/HHOF)

Everyone on any successful team has a role, and Eric Godard, who enjoyed his day with the Stanley Cup on August 23, keeps opponents honest when he's on the ice. He led the team in penalty minutes during their Stanley Cup championship season.

The plane carrying the Stanley Cup flew off to Vernon, British Columbia in the beautiful Okanagan Valley, but encountered some mechanical problems along the way and was delayed in arriving. Eric's girlfriend, Marika, was there to meet the small plane. It was curious that Marika calls Eric, 'Godard.' Not 'Eric.' It turns out they have another friend named Eric, so to differentiate, the Penguins' forward is affectionately called 'Godard' all day.

Eric and the Stanley Cup visited the Vernon Fire Department. (Walt Neubrand/HHOF)
Godard (gee, it must be contagious!) stopped for an autograph/photograph session at the Vernon Okanagan Boys and Girls Clubs gym. It was members only from 10:00 until 11:00 that morning, then the public was welcomed to join the festivities at the club until noon.

After a visit to the fire department, Godard (can't stop myself!) decided to make an impromptu visit to the police department. The door was locked, but there was an intercom button on the wall, so Eric pushed it. "Is this the police department?" he asked. "Yes it is," came the voice of the dispatcher. "My name is Eric Godard. From the Pittsburgh Penguins. I have the Stanley Cup with me and thought I'd drop by for a quick visit."

There was a momentary silence.

Eric and his girlfriend Marika sharing a moment with the Stanley Cup on Lake Okanagan. (Walt Neubrand/HHOF)
"Mr. Godard, if you can wait, I'll put a bulletin out over the radio, and I'm sure a few of the boys will want to take you up on your offer of showing them the Cup," she said. "Can you wait?"

"Uh…sure," Godard replied. Expecting a substantial wait, Eric watched in astonishment as several police cars roared into the parking lot within moments. "Where is it? Where is it?" demanded one constable, practically leaping out of car as though a robbery was in progress.

Godard showed the guys the Stanley Cup, and each got his picture taken with the legacy Lord Stanley left for the game of hockey.

Godard (thanks, Marika! Now you've got us doing it!) stopped by Jim Attridge Ski and Board to show the staff, picked up some beach wear and took off to Lake Okanagan. Godard and Marika, along with some friends, climbed into a rented pontoon boat and Eric was handed the Stanley Cup. Several other friends in boats met the couple there, so they hitched four or five of the boats together and simply floated out on the spectacular lake, soaking up the fruits of the Penguins' victory. Godard filled the bowl of the Cup with adult beverages and each of the friends got to take a sip out of the greatest punch bowl ever fashioned.

Eric and the Stanley Cup relaxing on Lake Okanagan. (Walt Neubrand/HHOF)
In the evening, the public was invited to meet Godard (It's become a habit! I can't help myself) at the Blue Heron Pub, where they could get pictures with the Stanley Cup and an autograph from the tough winger.

The night ended with a private party back at the house, where special friends gathered to celebrate and congratulate Godard on his sweet accomplishment.

* * *

The Stanley Cup was flown over to Europe, and on Tuesday, we'll celebrate with Miroslav Satan in another edition of the Stanley Cup Journal.

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Kevin Shea is the Editor of Publications and Online Features for the Hockey Hall of Fame.

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