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Lightning welcomes Distant Thunder fan from Italy

Saturday will be Fabio Sorini’s first time watching his team play on home ice in-person.
Victor Hedman signs an alternate jersey for Fabio Sorini, a 31-year-old Lightning fan from Turin, Italy. Sorini will celebrate his first Lightning game in-person Saturday against the Capitals as the honoree for Distant Thunder. [DIANA C. NEARHOS | TIMES]
Victor Hedman signs an alternate jersey for Fabio Sorini, a 31-year-old Lightning fan from Turin, Italy. Sorini will celebrate his first Lightning game in-person Saturday against the Capitals as the honoree for Distant Thunder. [DIANA C. NEARHOS | TIMES]
Published Mar. 16, 2019|Updated Mar. 16, 2019

TAMPA – It didn’t take long for coach Jon Cooper to invite Fabio Sorini into the media scrum after Saturday’s morning skate.

“Come on in,” Cooper said. “You want to introduce yourself?”

Sorini’s answer was quick.

“I am Fabio Sorini,” he said. “I am the Distant Thunder. I love this team and this community, and I love, of course, the players and the coach.”

Laughter immediately broke out, followed by Cooper’s invitation to have Sorini take over the questioning from the room of reporters.

Sorini celebrates his first NHL game in the United State Saturday evening as he’ll watch the Lightning take on the Capitals.

This time, however, he won’t be watching on his NHL TV account from Turin, Italy. He’ll be sitting right in front of the action watching his favorite team take on a rivaled opponent from the Chase Club.

The Distant Thunder, a group that focuses on fans that cheer for Tampa Bay abroad, found Sorini online.

He’s a sports journalist in Italy who manages HockeyWords, a website that focuses on hockey teams throughout the world, including the Italian Hockey League, Austrian Hockey League, European Hockey League and the NHL.

Sorini also started up the Italian facebook fan page for the Lightning and interacts with fans.

The Italian native loves everyone on the team, but he donned the Lightning’s alternate jersey with Victor Hedman’s name on the back when he met some of the players this morning in the locker room.

“If this is a dream, don’t wake me up,” he said as Hedman took a silver Sharpie to Sorini’s back.

Related: Up Next: vs. Capitals, Saturday at 7 p.m., Amalie Arena | TV/Radio: Fox Sports Sun, NHLN; AM-970

Steven Stamkos, Nikita Kucherov and Andrei Vasilevskiy are some of his other favorite players on the team.

“Our roster is incredible,” Sorini said.

But being a journalist himself brought even more of a special meaning to the experience as he was introduced to some of the Lightning reporters around the room.

“He was as excited to meet Brian Engblom and Caley (Chelios) and Bryan Burns,” chuckled Lightning director of marketing Brittany Austin. “He was just as excited about meeting the journalists.”

It was by chance that Sorini turned on a TV in

Italy to a live broadcast of the Lightning Stanley Cup game back in 2004. He has been a fan ever since “in the good and bad moments.”

Sorini previously saw the Lightning play against the Maple Leafs in Toronto back in 2016, a matchup that ended in Tampa Bay’s favor 7-3. But Saturday is his first time seeing his favorite team play on home ice in-person.

Since his arrival in Tampa on Thursday, Sorini has enjoyed taking in Tampa’s culture. He has spent much of his time in downtown as well as Ybor City, particularly noting the influence of Cuban tradition in the area.

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The Florida Aquarium and Busch Gardens are also on his to-do list before he flies back home on Thursday, but nothing has distracted Sorini from his Lightning experience.

“It’s an amazing day for sure,” he said.

Contact Mari Faiello at mfaiello@tampabay.com. Follow @faiello_mari.

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