They wore their favourite jerseys of their favourite teams, and were eager to meet some of their favourite players ahead of a professional hockey showdown that hit rural Newfoundland on Thursday night.
Fans crowding inside the Steele Community Centre in Gander earlier Thursday were dressed up and ready to welcome the Ottawa Senators and Montreal Canadiens for a practice and a preseason game, the culmination of a contest called Kraft Hockeyville.
The prize was awarded to nearby Twillingate more than two years ago for its dedication to the sport, but the big game is being held this week in nearby Gander.
"I lived here for five years, albeit in St. John's. I've said this over and over, it's some of the nicest people in the world," said Senators coach — and former St. John's Maple Leafs player — DJ Smith.
"It's a part of Canada a lot of people haven't experienced — how beautiful it is and just how people take care of each other."
Smith said his years in Newfoundland and Labrador made a lifelong impact on him.
"It's just such a different world, different community than anywhere else," he said. "It's unfortunate we're not here longer but it's [been] a huge part of my life."
Smith said the impact will also be felt on his players.
"This is something different for them, whether they're players and they make lots of money or whatever the case may be. They're all kids at heart and they all remember what it was like to lean over the glass and look for an autograph, to watch your favourite player on TV."
Local fans are also pumped.
Carolyn Anstey is a Twillingate teacher who made the trip to Gander for the day. She said she's been a Habs fans since watching the team on an old black and white television.
"It's amazing. I have my shirt signed and my jersey sign brought," she said, a Montreal jersey with Brendan Gallagher's name on the back.
"I actually had it on in under two layers and I squiggled to get it off so he could sign that. It's very amazing."
For Twillingate, the Hockeyville win came with $250,000 for upgrades to George Hawkins Memorial Arena and $10,000 in hockey equipment donated by the players' union.