Stanley Cup Attendance Runneth Over at Tsongas Center

Record Number Witness River Hawks Win

Sophomore goalie Doug Carr and official keeper of the cup Phil Pritchard.

Sophomore goalie Doug Carr and official keeper of the cup Phil Pritchard.

12/09/2011
By Julia Gavin

As the River Hawks soar this season, erasing last year’s difficult record , they welcomed hockey’s biggest celebrity to the Tsongas Center . The Stanley Cup, earned by the Boston Bruins in 2011, reminded fans of Boston and Lowell alike that supporting your team through rough times can have rewarding results.

Before beginning their sweep of the University of New Hampshire Wildcats, the River Hawks invited fans to have their picture taken with the famous trophy -- an opportunity more than 6,800 people gladly accepted. Watch the game highlights

“This is really fun and I love the Stanley Cup,” said Dylan Jillson of Hudson, NH. “When I grow up I want to play for the Bruins and win the cup.”

Jillson’s parents, Julie and Ian, were thrilled for Dylan to have the “once- in-a-lifetime” experience of seeing the trophy up close.

Sports Industry and Community Partnership Secured Cup Visit

Plans to bring the Stanley Cup to Lowell began last year and picked up again after the Bruins won the National Hockey League championship in June. Scott Donnelly, athletic marketing coordinator for the University, and Eric Allen, assistant athletic director, worked with contacts in the professional hockey world including the official keeper of the cup, Phil Pritchard, to bring it to the game. The months of planning all came together when the cup arrived hours before the game.

“Scott and I accompanied Phil when he opened it up for the first time and it almost takes your breath away just thinking about the rich history of it and all the stories that have been told,” said Allen. “To be right next to it was surreal.” 

The night, sponsored by Jeanne D’Arc Credit Union, was the perfect way to kick off the institution’s 100th anniversary.

“We always enjoy giving back to the community and what better way than to share something that we all waited so long for? It really speaks to our statement, ‘we all share a common thread,’” said Michelle Silveira, senior vice president and chief marketing officer for the credit union and an alumna of the University of Lowell. “It’s exciting to be involved and to see so many community members here.”

Donnelly credited the work of Tsongas Center and athletic department staff for keeping the event running smoothly as several thousand people had their moment with the cup. He said that the evening was the most memorable in his time at UMass Lowell, a feeling shared by many in the building that night.

“I saw every possible age coming through, from babies sitting in the cup to older folks finally getting a chance to see something they probably only saw on television or from afar at a parade,” said Allen. “Having Rene Rancourt sing the national anthem was a nice addition to the night.”

Allen said that the night helped keep the University “ahead of the curve.”

“Any time you can get several thousand people to attend an event on campus, athletics or not, it builds momentum for UMass Lowell as a whole,” said Allen. “We hope we created a few new hockey fans that night who will come back for more winning games.”