TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Over the last three years, Tampa Bay Lightning fans have become accustomed to playing in the Stanley Cup Finals. They did not expect that trend to end Saturday, when the Bolts faced the Toronto Maple Leafs in game six of their series.
The Maple Leafs led the best-of-seven series 3-2 going into Saturday’s game. The Lightning’s Stanley Cup Final dreams were dashed when Toronto scored in overtime, winning the game (2-1).
But before the Bolts hit the ice, fans gathered in Thunder Alley outside Amalie Arena to cheer on the team, energized by approaching storms.
“It’s a must win or else we’re going home but I have faith in the guys, we’re gonna win tonight and we’re gonna go back to Canada win it, bring it back home and win the series,’ said Jayme Lindsey, better known by Bolts fans as “Bolts Warrior.”
Wearing face paint and other Bolts memorabilia, Lindsey said being a “Warrior” is all about passion.
“It’s just my passion for the team. My passion for the sport,” he said.
In some ways, however, new fan Jared Rathbun is even more dedicated.
“I went to 35 home games this season,” he said.
It’s an over four hour drive from where he lives in Orange City, Fla., near Daytona, to Amalie Arena. In addition to the home games, Rathbun has been to playoff games this week as well.
“Hopefully we’ll get a game seven out of them and go to the Cup. That’s what we’re all hoping for, right?” he said.
“We will win,” said Holly Kane. “They’re Bolts.”
Saturday night’s game is a special birthday treat for the Kane family.
Christopher Kane is feeling optimistic.
“Saw some good things in the previous game. I think the Leafs are a little scared at this point because they know if they lose this one, it’s a game seven and they don’t want to be in that position,” he said.
The team’s watch party in Thunder Alley was later cancelled due to severe storms in the area.