Stranded fans looked after

PAUL FRIESEN -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 2:18 PM ET

GRAND FORKS, N.D. -- They filled every hotel room in town, bunked with old friends -- or made new ones. Maybe being stranded during the World Junior Hockey Championship isn't such a bad thing, after all.

Manitobans who couldn't get home because of the storm -- Hwy. 75 was closed at the U.S. border -- found creative ways to find a place to sleep here Thursday night.

The few hotels that had vacancies were quickly booked solid, some to overflowing.

At the Best Western Townhouse, for example, manager Tom Bures pulled out every rollaway cot in the place.

"We've got 11, so we used them all," Bures said yesterday. "We were actually full before the road closure."

Others stayed with people they knew in Grand Forks, extending their stay through New Year's Eve.

And some didn't seem to mind.

"This girl we picked up (Wednesday) night said we could have a party at her place," said Winnipegger Graeme MacMillan, a 21-year-old university student who's been here for most of the tournament.

Those who weren't so lucky were given a cot and blanket in a ballroom at the Alerus Center, a combination football/convention facility that was turned into a temporary shelter.

"We had 385 registered," American Red Cross spokesperson Shelly Goss said. "They didn't seem to (mind). I think they were just happy to have a place to stay. Most had left the shelter by about noon."

WHO'S IN CHARGE? Premier Gary Doer was one of the Manitobans who stayed in Grand Forks Thursday night.

Doer was spotted by a table of Winnipeggers at one of the locals Perkins Restaurants during breakfast yesterday.

"Who's running the province?" someone asked the premier.

"This is the command centre," Doer joked.

The premier was called into action during Canada's game against Finland Thursday, as organizers worked on plans to house stranded travellers.

"I missed the whole second period," he said.


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