BY DENNIS CHASE
TRAVERSE CITY -- Dallas Drake's dream came true Wednesday night -- and his family was there to share the moment.
Drake's wife, Amy, and three of his four children were in Pittsburgh to watch the Detroit Red Wings win the Stanley Cup with a 3-2 win over the Penguins.
And his children even joined in the celebration afterwards.
"The kids were out on the ice, in the dressing room, drinking out of the Stanley Cup with us (after the game)," Drake said. "That was special to have them there. That's something I'll never forget.
"My kids are all at an age where they really understand it. They're at an age where they'll remember this. It means a lot."
Although it was Detroit's fourth Stanley Cup in 11 seasons, it was Drake's first in his career after logging more than 1,000 NHL games. Drake, 38, signed with the Red Wings last summer as a free agent.
"It was a dream come true season," the Traverse City area resident said. "You dream about having the chance of carrying the Stanley Cup around the ice, over your head. My dream was no different than a lot of other kids."
Drake said the opportunity to win a Stanley Cup was a major reason he signed with the Wings, even though it meant time away from his family, who remained in Traverse City during the season.
"It was a long year," he said. "It was tough to be away from my family. But this made it all worthwhile (Wednesday) night. It was a special moment, an incredible experience."
The Red Wings had to withstand a last-minute rally by the Penguins, who nearly tied the game in the closing seconds. It was eerily similar to Monday night's game when Pittsburgh scored with 35 seconds left to force overtime. The Penguins eventually won that game in three overtimes.
"That was pretty stressful," Drake said of the last minute of play Wednesday.
He said he had flashbacks to Monday's game as the Penguins threatened to tie it.
"You're thinking, 'Could it possibly happen again?'" he said.
It didn't, and as the clock expired the Wings stormed out on the ice to begin their celebration.
Moments later, Drake was caught by surprised when captain Nick Lidstrom, after accepting the Stanley Cup from commissioner Gary Bettman and taking a short skate with it, passed it on to him.
"Usually it would go to the assistant captains (next)," Drake said. "Nick made it a point to give it to me. The other leaders on the team were pushing me out there. It was a great honor to take it from Nick and touch it for the first time."
The Wings arrived back in Detroit at 3 in the morning, then gathered in a hangar at the airport to continue their celebration.
The team spent Thursday evening together for dinner at the home of owners, Mike and Mariam Ilitch.
Drake said he's already been asked about his future plans, but will not announce a decision for two to three weeks.
"I don't want to make a knee-jerk reaction," he said. "I want to take some time."
Drake said he plans to take the Stanley Cup to British Columbia this summer. That's where he was born and raised.
For complete coverage of the Red Wings's Stanley Cup victory, plus more NHL news, see record-eagle.com/nhl.