ANCHORAGE, Alaska — The Kelly Cup champions returned home to a cheering crowd late Sunday afternoon. The Alaska Aces landed in Anchorage a day after their big win over the Kalamazoo Wings.
Sporting the blue and white, Aces fans started lining the gate at the airport before the expected landing time. "We got here about 5:45 p.m.," said Kristin and William Sams. "We wanted to get good seats."
It didn't take long for a small group to turn into a huge crowd. "It makes you feel like a kid rooting for the team," said Aces fan Celeste Garcia. "You gotta let them know how proud we are."
Within the crowd was one of the team's biggest supporters: the mother of #27 Brian Swanson.
"It's absolutely wonderful," said Lynn Swanson. "Brian's kid will be here in a moment. They had a soccer game today but they want to see their papa. Their papa told them he's going to bring home the trophy and bring home the cup, and that's what he's doing and we're very excited."
These fans had several practice runs for the real thing. They cheered for passengers who walked through the gate as it got closer and closer to the team's landing time.
And then, the big moment that hundreds came here to see: the Kelly Cup was in the spotlight, held up for the fans to see, and the players were met with a warm welcome from a very proud and happy group of Alaskans.
"We're glad to have them home and glad to have them win the cup," said Sams.