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Stanley Cup coming to Bird Island

Bird Island native Jason Serbus, trainer for the Washington Capitals, his wife, Paula, and son Garrett celebrate the Capitals' Stanley Cup championship with the Stanley Cup and the Prince of Wales Trophy, awarded to the NHL's Eastern Conference champions. Submitted photo.

BIRD ISLAND – Move over St. Paul, Bird Island will take its turn as the capital of the State of Hockey on Monday, July 23, when it hosts the Stanley Cup.

The Stanley Cup is on its way to the Renville County community of just over 1,000 people one day after a visit to Virginia, Minnesota, and fresh from its travels to Moscow, Russia, and Prague, Czech Republic, where thousands were expected to have welcomed it.

The trophy will be on display in Bird Island from 1 to 3 p.m. July 23 at The Broaster restaurant parking lot, 745 Highway Ave., or about one-half block from the only traffic lights in the community.

“Honored and humbled to be coming here,’’ said Jason Serbus, who is responsible for making possible the visit of one of the most coveted trophies in professional sports.

Serbus is a Bird Island native and the head athletic trainer for the Washington Capitals. The team became the National Hockey League Stanley Cup champions for the first time this June.

By tradition, the players and others who are part of the championship team each get a day to take the trophy to a destination of their choosing. The Capital’s star players Alex Ovechkin and Jakub Urana, natives of Russia and the Czech Republic, respectively, recently brought the Cup to their hometowns to celebrate the team’s championship.

The Capital’s defenseman Matt Niskanen is responsible for the trophy’s appearance in Virginia one day prior to the Bird Island visit. Niskanen played for the Virginia/Mountain Iron/Buhl boys’ hockey team, the Blue Devils, before playing for the University of Minnesota, Duluth.

Serbus told the West Central Tribune he had no hesitation in his mind where he would bring the trophy if given the opportunity to be among those chosen to do so. Along with putting his hometown on the map, he’s hoping the visit will benefit the Tim Orth Memorial Foundation.

A freewill donation is being asked of those who would like to use their camera or phone to snap a photo next to the Stanley Cup. The Foundation assists the families of children in west central Minnesota who are facing substantial medical expenses.

Jason Serbus is the son of Steve and Val Serbus and a BOLD High School graduate. Val Serbus has been a volunteer with the Tim Orth Memorial Foundation since its start. Jason, his wife, Paula, and their son Garrett have been cheering for the Capitals since Serbus accepted his current position one year ago. He previously was the head athletic trainer for the Arizona Coyotes.

The Capitals won the Stanley Cup in game five, downing the Vegas Golden Knights, 4-3. Serbus described the playoff run, and the excitement of winning the Stanley Cup, in one word: “Overwhelming.”

Tim Orth Memorial Foundation members are organizing the Stanley Cup visit to Bird Island. In a town where the annual Polka Fest and Island Day celebrations are otherwise the summer’s two big events, they are hopeful this event will prove every bit as successful and as celebratory. They encourage anyone with an interest in hockey to come and join the fun, rain or shine.

Tom Cherveny

Tom Cherveny is a regional and outdoor reporter with the West Central Tribune in Willmar, MN.

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