Bolts Win the Cup

Lightning+Win+the+cup

Brooke Rollison

Lightning Win the cup

Sixteen years ago the oldest of students at CDS would have been about three years old. They would have no memory of that first time the Tampa Bay Lightning won the Stanley Cup. But finally, the Tampa Bay Lightning were able to bring the Cup back to the Bay.

After an upsetting loss in the first round of the playoffs in 2019 against the Columbus Blue Jackets, the Lightning were back again. Protected from COVID-19 in the “NHL Bubble” they prepared to face them again. In the 2019 series the Bolts lost 4-0. This year, they pulled together and proved themselves. At six hours and thirteen minutes, game one was the fourth longest in NHL history. It ended in the fifth overtime. After this, Lightning fans knew that getting past the first round would be very difficult. The Bolts did it.

After that round one win freshman Brooke Rollison knew that the Lightning truly might have a fighting chance. The Lightning beat the Blue Jackets, which was a concern during the series. However, Rollinson knew that, “it felt like we could finally do it. That this was our year.” And it became “our year” when fans everywhere saw Lighting captain Steven Stamkos raise the cup over his head.

There was a long road ahead of the Bolts before that happened. In round two the Lightning faced the Boston Bruins. The Lightning won the round two series 4-1. Science teacher Julie Hall said, “In round one, beating [the Blue Jackets] told us that we could psychologically do it. Beating the Bruins showed that we could physically do it.”

Beating the Blue Jackets and the Bruins was an accomplishment, but facing the New York Islanders in the Eastern Conference Championships would be a big test. In game one there was an 8-2 Lightning win. Lightning fans everywhere could begin to see the shine of the Stanley Cup. In a 4-2 series, the Lighting became Eastern Conference Champions and proceeded to the finals against the Dallas Stars.

Game one of the finals had Lightning fans on edge leading to the rest of the series when the Stars won 4-1. However, the Lighting were able to pull through and win games two, three, and four. The Stars won game five, forcing game six.  The Lightning shut out the Stars. The Bolts scored twice and Andrei Vasilevskiy had 22 saves.The Lightning won the series 4-2 with a 2-0 win in game six. The Lightning had 18 wins and seven losses during the whole postseason and it paid off; the Stanley Cup was coming back to Tampa Bay.

16 years ago Hall had just moved to Tampa and was not a Bolts fan yet. She got to enjoy the glorious moment with her family, and said that, “being able to be a fan this time around made it mean a lot more.” For Rollison, seeing the Cup being hoisted by players in Tampa jerseys, she was convinced that it was not real.

After the game six win, fans in Tampa were in a euphoria. Downtown in Thunder Alley and at Sparkman Wharf people were going crazy, jumping into the Bay and flooding restricted areas. However, for Hall, a win under the shadow of the coronavirus meant, “that while they understood the excitement, it was sad to think that something so great could have such negative consequences.”

After the team’s return to the Bay, events were planned to celebrate. These included a boat parade on the Hillsborough river and a party at Raymond James Stadium. When Hall heard each of the players talk about the experience, she felt like she was actually there when the Lightning won. A boat parade seemed appropriate, the cup being in Tampa and all. For some, the cup being passed around and everyone drinking out of it raised concerns, it being 2020. The players spent months away from the virus in the bubble, and then became very exposed all at once.

During the  playoffs, Lightning fans were told by many people that their team was not going to win the cup– that they were going to choke just like the past 16 years. The team proved them wrong, and the fans were able to stand tall and not let it bother them during the duration of the postseason. In their minds they knew the Bolts could win. Hall said that she told her family, “Just wait, we’re a hockey town, we can do it.”

In the end, there were many contributing factors as to why the Cup is back in Tampa. In past years the Lightning were lacking elements that they had gained in the 2020 season.  “Our team is more physical, we have some bigger guys. The additions of players like Goodman, Maroon, and Bogosian made all the difference,” Hall said. It also helped that the Lightning had one of the best goalies in the NHL.

After a devastating loss in 2019, the Lightning came back and beat the best teams in the National Hockey League in the toughest of circumstances.