Thousands of loyal Thunderbolt fans packed the Tampa Bay Times Forum Sunday to celebrate the team's return.
"Hockey season is here. It's back with a vengeance," said fan Randy Waz.
They've had to wait for the season to start for months. Joe Kelly said the NHL lockout didn't deter him from buying season tickets.
"I'm very happy that they're back on the ice and all the differences are settled," said Kelly.
Fans waited in line to meet players and get their jerseys, hats, and towels signed at the annual Fan Fest. They also got to watch players take the ice for their first official practice.
"Not everybody can say that they shook Stamkos' hand," said fan Jovan Vasquez. "It's pretty cool."
The shortened season marks the Lightning's 20th anniversary.
"We just can't wait to see the puck drop next Saturday," said fan Sharon Boyce.
Single game tickets go on sale Monday at 10 AM. The Lightning's first game is Saturday at 7 PM against the Washington Capitals.