CEDAR RAPIDS – Mark Mullen’s day with the Stanley Cup included sharing it for a couple of hours with about 2,500 of his closest friends.
“It’s a dream come true,” the Los Angeles Kings scout and former Cedar Rapids RoughRiders assistant coach said as he watched a stream of fans pose for photos with hockey’s famous trophy before Saturday night’s Cedar Rapids RoughRiders-Green Bay game at the Cedar Rapids Ice Arena.
This was believed to be the first time the Stanley Cup has been in town. At one point, roughly a 1,000 people were standing in line around the concourse at the Ice Arena, waiting to share a few seconds with it.
Mullen lives in Cedar Rapids with his wife and four daughters. As is tradition, every member of the Kings organization (players, coaches and staff) gets a day with the Cup, with Saturday being his.
The Stanley Cup arrived in town via air from California, along with liasion Mike Bolt, Saturday afternoon. The RoughRiders got their own personal viewing of it in their lockerroom, then it was the fans’ turn.
Mullen held a private party with it at his home Saturday night, then it was on to New York City for the Cup’s next stop.
“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime thing,” said Brad Johnson of Cedar Rapids. “How often do you get to spend time with the Cup?”
“That’s what makes this trophy different than any other sport,” Mullen said. “It has been to so many places. So many people have had the day with it that have sacrificed so much for it. For me to have a day with it … that’s just a pretty special thing. I went to these events when I was a kid. To be the person bringing it is awesome.”
Mullen told The Gazette over the summer he didn’t think he’d get a Stanley Cup day because he is relatively low on the totem pole, so to speak. But he found out a month ago he was on the list.
The Kings actually filed a time extension with the NHL in order to give everyone a shot with it. A Boston native who played college hockey at Boston University, he decided to celebrate with it here instead of Beantown.
“In the end, this is my home now,” he said. “I certainly owe a lot to the RoughRiders organization for where I am right now. I wouldn’t have the job I have without my stop here.”
Green Bay won a wild, crazy and sometimes chippy and dirty game in a shootout, 8-7. The Gamblers got the only goal in the shootout.
The game featured 44 penalties for 213 penalty minutes and nine players ejected. At one point in the third period, Cedar Rapids had just nine available skaters to 10 for Green Bay.
Cedar Rapids' Andrew Oglevie missed most of the third period after taking a cross check to the face that chipped his front teeth and rightfully earned Green Bay's Ben Gallacher a five-minute cross-checking major and game ejection.
The RoughRiders rallied from a 3-0 first-period hole to tie the game. They fell behind in the third period by two goals but scored two to tie it, including Riley Bourbonnais' tally with two minutes left.
Cedar Rapids had to kill off a two-minute penalty that carried over into the first 1:25 of overtime. The Riders lost their games this weekend in overtime and shootout.
"Tremendously proud of our team both nights," Riders Coach Mark Carlson said. "Nothing tough to swallow here whatsoever. We showed a lot of guts, a lot of fight to come back from a 2-0 deficit last night and a 3-0 deficit tonight .... Not tough to swallow whatsoever. I am really extremely, extremely, extremely, extremely proud of my entire hockey team."
Here is the game boxscore on a memorable night: