Close your eyes.
Hear the incessant buzzing of Tesla coils before every period. Hear the glass panes violently shake as a Lightning player checks an opponent. Hear the ding of pucks bouncing off crossbars and posts, the thud of a shot hitting a goalie pad. Hear the goal siren call fans to their feet as the puck hits the back of the net.
The sounds of the game enchant. They steel the confidence of a goalie. They salute the achievements of a teammate. They take a team captain back to his childhood.
Five years ago, they converted me from a 16-year-old volleyball player into an ardent follower of hockey after a single game at Amalie Arena.
Hockey resonates with its symphony of sounds that lends an aura to the setting unlike no other sport.
Close your eyes.
The swoosh of skates on fresh ice
When Steven Stamkos takes his first steps on the open ice for warmups, practice or the start of each period, he is taken back to his childhood.
The sound of skates on fresh ice reminds him of the days he spent skating alone on a pond as a child, the days before he got labeled the Lightning’s savior, fought off injuries and became Tampa Bay’s career goals leader.
Steel meeting ice seems like a collision, but the sound of a skate on a pristine surface is calm, smooth. It’s the sound you wish you could hear over and over as the ice crunches under the weight of metal blades about the size of a stack of three quarters.
“There’s no better sound,” Stamkos said, “than when it’s quiet and you can just hear that crisp, sound crunch.”
The sound of a puck off the crossbar or goal posts
It’s hard to miss the distinctive ping a puck makes as it hits a goal post or crossbar at a high rate of speed, more than 100 mph in some cases.
The sound is enough to make an arena full of fans stand on its toes, hoping for a goal but preparing for heartache.
Most Lightning players cited the familiar ring of rubber colliding with steel as their favorite hockey sound.
It’s distinctive. It’s memorable. It’s excruciating.
“I think that’s just such an identifiable sound,” Tyler Johnson said. “I think everyone hears that and sees that. Sometimes it’s very favorable, and sometimes it’s not — depends if (the puck) goes in or not — but I think that sound you can hear pretty distinctly.”
And if you’re goalie Louis Domingue, you’d rather hear that sound than the blare of the goal siren.
“If you’re in net and someone shoots and (the puck) hits the crossbar, it’s always a good sound,” he said. “The siren isn’t.”
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The sound of a puck as it hits a stick
Nikita Kucherov loves having the puck on his stick. It’s one of the many reasons why he leads the league in assists this season (83).
But what he loves even more is the sound of a perfect pass.
“(My favorite sound is) probably the sound of a stick handle when the puck’s touching the stick, and when it’s smooth, you can hear it,” Kucherov said.
He often finds himself standing on the ice waiting on a pass. The puck will glide across the ice and find a home along the toe of his stick. Clack.
The sound of two players checking each other into the boards
It’s hard to miss that sound, sometimes quite literally — boom.
Cedric Paquette, who leads the Lightning in hits this year, and Predators defenseman Mattias Ekholm provided the thunder in a March 2015 game.
The Lightning forward checked Ekholm into the glass between the benches, forcing him to fall over the wall into Tampa Bay’s bench. The crowd erupted. The glass boards rumbled.
“I like the sound of a big hit on the boards,” Paquette said. “Or even if you miss the guy and just hit the board, it’s an even bigger sound. I just think the crowd gets into it and it’s a nice sound.”
The sound of sticks tapping against the ice or bench boards
Moments after Nikita Kucherov this month scored his 109th point this season, breaking Vinny Lecavalier’s Lightning season record, play against the Red Wings came to a stop and the Amalie Arena scoreboard displayed some of Kucherov’s spotlight career moments.
Upon its ending, Lightning fans gave the All-Star forward a standing ovation, clapping, cheering and whistling.
But then came the tapping.
The tapping (to go with the clapping) that didn’t stop for nearly 30 seconds, raising goose bumps.
The sound of 21 sticks rattling the ice and the boards along the bench honored a great moment, a great player.
A great moment came to a climax not with flashy video highlights, but the simple act of stick tapping.
The sound of the goal horn
When Victor Hedman broke open a scoreless game against the Senators on March 2, Amalie Arena shook as Lightning fans stood and screamed. Hedman pumped his fist in the air with a look of sheer joy. Teammates swarmed him.
Yet, its the audio that matches the video. The goal sirens blare and the Tesla rods buzz without pause as the puck flies into the goal.
“The Tesla coil’s always good, or the goal horn I think is probably my favorite,” Hedman said.