Boucher: A Day At Lightning Fan Fest 2013
For the last few years, the Tampa Bay Lightning’s Fan Fest has served as a kick off for the upcoming season. It was no different on Saturday, September 14th at the Forum. Over 4,500 hockey fanatics donned their jerseys in spite of the 90 degree heat. The team put on a great event with something for everyone, all centered around the brand new sheet of ice.
The 62 players invited to training camp were divided into three groups. Each group’s on ice time was staggered throughout the day, giving plenty of time for other festivities. The first group was mainly made up of recent draftees and familiar faces from the Syracuse Crunch. The Forum’s doors opened at 8 am, with a decent amount of fans scurrying for seats as things got underway.
Adam Erne was a definite stand out in the first group, coming in second to Danick Gauthier in Group One’s shoot out drill to close their session. (Photo/Alexis Boucher)
Group two featured many names that have come to personify the Bolts: Martin St. Louis, Steven Stamkos, and Victor Hedman to name a few. 2013 first round draft pick Jonathan Drouin was also among this crew. Steven Stamkos came close to winning the group’s shootout, a bit surprising given his lack of success in actual shoot outs. Associate coach Rick Bowness made his presence felt here, running a number of the drills and taking time with each player.
Stamkos shoot out goal https://t.co/UpLQtFRcDR
— Alexis Boucher (@alexis_b82) September 14, 2013
In addition to practice, fans were treated to a number of other things. Rick Peckham interviewed GM Steve Yzerman, head coach Jon Cooper, and team owner Jeffrey Vinik over the course of the day. Former Boltsi Dave Andreychuk, Chris Dingman, and Brian Bradley joined local police and fire fighters for a “Battle of the Badges” charity game as well. All attending players were spaced around the arena for autographs, including a few solely for season ticket holders on the club level.
Overall it was a long, but enjoyable day. There were a lot of people, but it never seemed super crowded and overwhelming. Some of the autograph lines were long, but the organizers definitely put a lot of work into the scheduling of the day.
With preseason games beginning next week, it was the perfect way to get in the mood for hockey.
Follow me on Twitter @alexis_b82 and please “like” LightningShout on Facebook. You can email us at LightningShout@aol.com.