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Stanley Cup provides memorable moments at track

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The Stanley Cup arrives at the Saratoga Race Track for a benefit to raise money for the Double H Ranch, Monday. At right on the cart is Walter Neubrand of the Hockey Hall Of Fame.

SARATOGA SPRINGS  There were no men in coats and ties with white gloves to bring the Stanley Cup into Saratoga Race Course on Monday.

A couple of security guards walked alongside a golf cart, on the back of which sat perhaps the most iconic trophy in North American sports. Alongside them was the person who made the day possible: Glen Lake resident Kevin Dineen.

Dineen, an assistant coach for the Stanley Cup-champion Chicago Blackhawks, was 10 minutes early for the two-hour photo opportunity, in which people who wanted to get their photo taken with Dineen and the Cup paid $10 to Double H Ranch. No matter, it was his day with the Cup, and he knew what the fans wanted.

So, at 1:20 p.m. Dineen stared at the already-long line and lifted the Cup high over his head, at which point the roar that greeted him resembled one reserved for horses that win the Travers Stakes. From there, Dineen talked and smiled with the people that had waited as they got their pictures taken.

His smile was just one of many during the day.

First in line was Saratoga Springs’ Torin Antinelli, wearing a Blackhawks jersey.

“I was born in Chicago,” Antinelli, 14, said. “I moved here when I was in third grade. I’ve been here today since 8 a.m. with my friend.”

While Antinelli wasn’t leaving anything to chance, other members of the racing community received special permission to cut in line for a quick photo, like trainer Gary Contessa and former New York Racing Association President and CEO Barry Schwartz.

“I am a hockey fanatic,” said Contessa, a New Jersey Devils fan. “But this is what it’s all about, the Stanley Cup, and I tip my hat to (Dineen) to bring it here of all places. They could have done so many things with it, and he brought it here. Cool guy.”

Double H Ranch is a year-round camp in Lake Luzerne dedicated to providing specialized programs and support for children and their families dealing with life-threatening illnesses.

Seth Cooper, one of several people associated with Double H on hand, described the day as “awesome.”

“It’s nice we’re able to combine with Kevin Dineen, a local person, and it’s nice he tied in with Double H and get the $10 donation to Double H,” Cooper said. “It’s a very kind thing. The whole Dineen family is a class act. Being able to meet him again and talk to him again is awesome.”

For South Glens Falls’ Brett Ostrander, missing this once-in-a-lifetime experience wasn’t acceptable.

“I was going to call off work if I had to,” Ostrander said, “because who knows the next time any of us are going to see it again? We’re rich in hockey history in this area, so you have to go see it if you get the chance.”

Young fan Patrick Kenny of Saratoga Springs was even more direct.

“I was just, like, ‘Who’s going to take me,’ ” Kenney said.

Albany’s Don Lantz, dressed in a Blackhawks shirt and hat, was pretty far back in line, but that was a small deterrent.

“I’ve been a Blackhawks fan since I moved to Albany, which was 1968,” Lantz said. “And the reason I became a Blackhawks fan was because I could get Chicago on my radio, downstairs, to get away from my three sisters.

“I heard about it on the radio, but my buddy who’s a Rangers fan called me because I wasn’t going to come up and suggested we go up,” Lantz added. “It’s a gorgeous day, and what better way to spend a couple hours than with the Stanley Cup?”

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