TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – When the Tampa Bay Lightning organization won its first Stanley Cup in franchise history in 2004, the Winslow family celebrated it and embraced the surge of the sport in their state.
“It got our whole family into the sport,” said 19-year-old Avery Winslow, “so my two brothers started playing and I tagged along and followed along.”
Avery, a defenseman from St. Pete Beach, put on his first pair of skates when he was only 6-years-old. He wore them constantly. When he was not practicing his skills, he was sitting in front of the television learning how to build on those skills.
“I watched every game I could put on,” he said, “and a lot of the guys I grew up watching, I have watched for years. Watching their growth over the years has been cool to see.”
He focused on the playing styles of two of the best defensemen in the league and current Lightning players, Victor Hedman and Mikhail Sergachev.
“Those guys are really cool to see and, obviously, highly talented players,” Winslow said.
While Winslow has moved across the county to pursue his hockey career, he answered a phone call that would bring him home in July.
“I was actually on a family vacation in Ocean City, New Jersey… and Tampa called during the draft and asked me if I would come to camp so it was definitely a dream come true,” Winslow said.
Yes, his hometown team invited him to its prospect camp, which began on Tuesday inside Amalie Arena.
“This is a team I grew up watching and saw everything they did in the last two years,” said Avery, “and, obviously, it was definitely a dream come true to be out there and be doing what I have always dreamed of doing.”
Fans can watch Avery and the rest of the Lightning prospects take on the Nashville Predators at AMALIE Arena at 2 p.m. on Sept. 18. The event is free to the public and features exclusive interviews with Julien Brisebois and current Tampa Bay Lightning players.
You can claim your tickets on the Lightning’s website.