TAMPA, Fla. - The Tampa Bay Lightning’s quest for a third Stanley Cup brought lots of energy to fans and plenty of business for Tampa tourism, despite Sunday's result.
Bolts fans and local businesses shared what it meant for them to see the team play in three back-to-back runs in the Stanley Cup final.
"At least my kids got back into it and they’re really excited about it. And I text my uncle on California during the games. So family-wise at least I’m getting more of the family involved," said Jay Alesnik, a Tampa Bolts fan.
Fans said it’s been a joy to watch the team play hockey at this level for three years straight.
"It’s very special. I love this team. I was at the first game they ever played. I have been a fan since before there was a team," said Monika Alesnik, a Tampa Bolts fan.
Tampa business owners said it’s been important for downtown places like Hattricks Tavern.
"From a community-based standpoint, Tampa is on the map. This brings a lot of eyes to our city, a lot of eyes to what’s happening in Tampa, to the growth that’s coming," said David Mangione, a partner at Hattricks.
Bolts blue and white is everywhere in Tampa, from jerseys filling up bars and restaurants to banners and signs. Fans said they enjoy being a part of something bigger.
"To come downtown to be a part of the games, to come to us, to come to other businesses that are in the area, you just want to be part of the energy that this situation is creating," said Mangione.
Bolts fans said Tampa is without a doubt a hockey town, and three pursuits for Lord Stanley’s Cup set the benchmark for the team.
"To be here, to have this run for all these years with the team this good with a core group of players, I mean it’s the hardest thing in the world to do. This trophy and this grind, they’ve shown real resilience," said Jay Alesnik.