ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (FOX 13) - The Tampa Bay Lightning aren't too busy winning to make some new friends. They made a lot of new friends, in fact.
The team brought street hockey to the kids at Holy Family Catholic School in St. Petersburg. This is part of their "Build the Thunder" program that started about four years ago -- a way to reach out to more kids in the community.
The Bolts teamed up with the NHL to help share their love of hockey with kids in 4th through 8th grades. They pick different schools all over the Tampa Bay area, bring hockey clinics and bring all kinds of cool swag. The team brought out a makeshift rink, nets, sticks and balls for the kids. And they get to keep it all -- scrimmage vests and everything.
This event isn't just about sharing hockey tips. It's about something much bigger.
"It's important because a lot of these kids can't do these types of things. They can't afford to go to a game all the time," said Holy Family Coach Chris Wilson, "So for these guys to step up and come out and give them vouchers and do all of this, it means a lot. They're Lightning fans forever after this. That's for sure."
Hockey star Mathieu Garon worked with the kids all morning. After a Stanley Cup win and a stint with the Lightning from 2011-2013, he said his hockey career has been a dream. He wants to pass his love along. And he did just that.
"One little girl said it was the best day of her life and that's why we do it," Garon said, "We do it for the kids. We do it for them and hopefully we grow the game by doing that."
The kids at Holy Family got 40 sticks, two nets and everything else they need to set up another street hockey game whenever they want.