Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Lightning fans turn out in force at St. Pete Times Forum, leave dejected but proud of team

TAMPA — Dejection but not disappointment filled the hearts of thousands of Tampa Bay Lightning fans who watched the end of a season Friday night.

Anti-Boston Bruins chants swept through the crowd outside the St. Pete Times Forum during a tense, scoreless second period. Lightning fans who turned out for a watch party looked on as Boston's TD Garden reverberated with Bruins fans shouting, "We need a Cup!"

Then, it happened: Bruins right wing Nathan Horton deflected a pass, sending the puck past Lightning goalie Dwayne Roloson with 7:33 left in the third period.

Shouts of "Oh no!" rang through the courtyard. It was all the Bruins needed for a 1-0 series-clinching win and a trip to the Stanley Cup finals.

Heather Clerk, 28, of Palm Harbor wasn't smiling as the Bruins celebrated, but she wasn't unhappy.

"It was a great game," she said. "Their drive and motivation is great. They didn't have the best start this season, but they always pulled it out."

Clerk, a restaurant manager and a season ticket holder, vowed to be back for the Bolts next season.

"It was an excellent game," added Lyonel Leonard, a 64-year-old retiree from Lakeland. "Anytime you get through almost a whole game with no penalties, that's good hockey.

"I'm absolutely not disappointed at all. One goal won it."

Leonard said the crowd at Friday's watch party eclipsed all the previous ones that he attended.

"You've got to have the atmosphere," he laughed.

Before the opening puck dropped, some 3,000 people had made their way to the Forum. A human sea of blue and white blanketed the arena's courtyard.

As the game remained scoreless through the second period, fans cheered wildly at every save and Lightning shot.

"It would be amazing to win," said Tara Ferry, 19, of Dunedin. She didn't live in Tampa when the Bolts won the Stanley Cup in 2004, but she's a huge fan now.

Jon Loomis, 24, wanted a victory for personal reasons: He works on the crew that changes the Forum's ice sheet for non-hockey events.

At the end of the second period, Loomis said the game seemed pretty even, but center Steven Stamkos' injury was cause for concern. Stamkos was hit in the face by a puck and briefly left the game early in the second period.

Lightning fans turn out in force at St. Pete Times Forum, leave dejected but proud of team 05/27/11 [Last modified: Saturday, May 28, 2011 12:09am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Who is Alejandro Villanueva, the Steelers player and veteran who stood alone? Here's why he has the NFL's top-selling jersey today


    CHICAGO — When the national anthem started at Soldier Field on Sunday, the visiting sideline was mostly empty. The most prominent evidence of the Pittsburgh Steelers was offensive lineman Alejandro Villanueva, a former Army Ranger, standing all by himself near the tunnel, holding his right hand over his heart.

    Alejandro Villanueva stands alone during the national anthem at Soldier Field in Chicago. [Associated Press]
  2. 'Battle of the Sexes' is a fine time capsule comedy, and not really about the tennis


    In 1973, tennis champion Billie Jean King joined a two-ring circus with hustler Bobby Riggs, billed as a Battle of the Sexes amid the women's liberation movement. Fifty million Americans watched the pop spectacle on TV.

    Emma Stone and Steve Carell in the film "Battle of the Sexes." [Fox Searchlight Pictures.]
  3. Hillsborough will not add extra days for storm


    Public school students in Hillsborough County do not have to come to school for additional days to make up for time missed in Hurricane Irma, the district announced Monday.

  4. Tom Cruise's son Connor Cruise to DJ Halloween party at Tampa's Hard Rock Cafe


    Whenever Tom Cruise comes to Clearwater on Church of Scientology business, he keeps a low profile. Occasionally he'll Connor Cruise attended Wild 94.1 Wild Splash in 2016.

  5. Bicyclist struck in St. Petersburg dies as result of injuries


    ST. PETERSBURG — A bicyclist who police said ran a red light and was struck by a car last week died over the weekend.