TAMPA (WFLA) – As Tampa Bay Lightning fans packing Amalie Arena brought the distant thunder Friday night, one youngster was at the center of the Stanley Cup Final Game 3 watch party pre-game celebration.
“I did the Thunderstruck skate,” Thomas Youngblood said. “I got to skate around the whole entire rink.”
His proud mom Mary Youngblood enjoyed every moment.
“Oh my, it gives me goosebumps to see him out there,” she said. “He loves hockey and now he’s skating on the greatest arena possible. To see my kid out there skating on that ice it gives me goosebumps.”
The Lightning made 16,000 tickets available for the Game 3 watch party, so the crowd was much bigger than the limited capacity of 3,500 because of covid-19 restrictions in Montreal at the Bell Centre.
“You’d think the team was here,” Mrs. Youngblood said. “This place is on fire.”
Normally, 11-year-old Youngblood skates at the AdventHealth Ice Center in Wesley Chapel with his teammates from the Tampa Bay Crunch youth travel team.
“I thought it was really cool that I got to do this because I’ve always been a fan of the team,” he said. “They’re the reason I started playing hockey basically so it was really cool I got to do it.”
His hockey position is center so naturally his favorite Lightning player is Brayden Point.
“Because some people say he plays like me or I play like him sometimes and yeah he’s my favorite player because he scores a lot of goals and he does it in a humble way,” Youngblood told 8 On Your Side.
This is a night Youngblood will never forget, just like when he had the same honor for the watch party when the Bolts won Game 6 against the Dallas Stars in September 2020 to bring the Cup back to Tampa Bay.
“This year its a lot more packed than any watch party I’ve ever seen,” Youngblood said. “But last year it was pretty cool with all the confetti and everyone screaming everything like that it was pretty cool.”