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Mari Faiello - Sports Trending and Outdoors Reporter

Sports Trending and Outdoors Reporter

It’s always been about sports — whether I was playing them or writing about them. It should be no surprise that’s how I ended up here, covering athletics for Florida’s best newspaper after internship stints in 2019 and 2020. I’m usually toting around a Venti Starbucks iced coffee or refresher in one hand with a Staples notepad and Pilot G-2 pen in the other. When I’m not out on assignment, I’m playing with my dog. The University of Florida and the Independent Florida Alligator taught me how to write, showing me I could actually live out my lifelong passion. And it didn’t take long for me to figure out I get the same rush of adrenaline pursuing a story I love as I did diving on the hardwood and plastic-tiled volleyball courts for 12 years. And now, I get to write for my hometown paper. The same paper that inspired me to pursue the life of a journalist.

  1. After the game-winning goal by Ondrej Palat, fans inside of Amalie Arena cheer during the official Lightning watch party on Friday night.
  2. Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon (29), top right circled in red, can be seen returning to the bench with his skate on the ice as Avalanche center Nazem Kadri (91) shoots the puck for the winning goal in overtime of Game 4 Wednesday at Amalie Arena.
  3. Lightning defenseman Erik Cernak (81) falls to the ice as Avalanche right wing Logan O'Connor (25) looks on during the second period in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup final Wednesday.
  4. Lightning fans hold signs as right wing Nikita Kucherov is seen on the ice just prior to taking on the Avalanche in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup final Monday.
  5. Colorado Avalanche defenseman Cale Makar (8), controlling the puck in front of Lightning left wing Brandon Hagel (38) during Game 3 of the Stanley Cup final, won the Norris Trophy as the NHL's top defenseman during the regular season.
  6. Bucs tight end Rob Gronkowski (87) celebrates a touchdown during a wild-card victory over the Philadelphia Eagles in January at Raymond James Stadium.
  7. Sure, Lightning right wing Corey Perry has won one Stanley Cup once, earlier in his career. But the motivation, even after all these years in the league, is "to win not just the one, but ... another one after that."
  8. Lightning right wing Nikita Kucherov, front, is taken down by Avalanche defenseman Devon Toews during the third period of Game 3 on Monday night.
  9. Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman is in the running for the Norris Trophy a sixth straight season.
  10. Lightning left wing Ondrej Palat, second from left, along with defenseman Mikhail Sergachev, center, and right wing Nikita Kucherov, second from right, celebrate Palat’s first-period goal during Game 3 of the Stanley Cup final Monday.
  11. Lightning center Brayden Point (21) watches the puck as goaltender Darcy Kuemper (35), defenseman Cale Makar (8), right, and defenseman Devon Toews (7), far left, of the Avalanche look on during the third period of Game 2 Saturday in Denver.
  12. Avalanche right wing Valeri Nichushkin celebrates his first-period goal as Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy and defenseman Jan Rutta look on during Game 2 Saturday night.
  13. Lightning center Steven Stamkos and defenseman Victor Hedman (77) speak from the podium following Game 6 of the opening-round series against the Maple Leafs. Hedman always prefers to sit on the right side facing the the media.
  14. Becky McKeen, known as "Bathroom Becky," stands outside of the bathroom near Section 106 at Amalie Arena during home games to help bring good fortune to the Lightning.
  15. Avalanche goaltender Darcy Kuemper keeps an eye on the action around the net during a February game against the Lightning.
  16. Though Pierre-Edouard Bellemare heard from at least eight playoff teams as he entered free agency, signing with the two-time defending Stanley Cup champion Lightning was a no-brainer for the veteran forward.
  17. Lightning players celebrate their 2-1 victory over the New York Rangers in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference final Saturday at Amalie Arena.
  18. Lightning defenseman Erik Cernak checks his face after being hit during the second period Saturday at Amalie Arena.
  19. Hope grows by the day that Brayden Point will return to the Lightning lineup before this postseason ends.
  20. Lightning center Riley Nash
  21. Lightning defenseman Zach Bogosian, front, works to move the puck against the Panthers during the second round. Bogosian had a lot on his mind during that series, with his newborn son in the neonatal intensive care unit after a premature birth.
  22. At the start of the day, Lightning center Brayden Point wasn't ruled out of tonight's key Game 6 against the Rangers. But by the time warmups rolled around, he wasn't in the lineup.
  23. Lightning left wing Pat Maroon, second from left, feels fortunate to be in another “really good situation” to advance to a Stanley Cup Final.
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