This season, the Tampa Bay Lightning did incredible in both the regular season and in the playoffs so far. For the past few seasons, the Bolts have done well and even qualified for the Stanley Cup Finals in 2015. Although last season they didn’t quite qualify for the finals, this year they not only qualified, but they are also the Atlantic division champs for the regular season.
The amount of success that the Lightning is bringing to Tampa, is not only super exciting for fans who love to watch the Bolts play, but it can also be incredibly motivating for younger players who look up to the team.
This is not a new concept, as often times when an athlete or team from a certain county is successful, that popularizes the team and makes it more common in that country. However, having an incredibly well performing local team can have an even stronger impact on that area, and the younger athletes who live and play there.
“I think having a successful team like the Lightning changes my view of hockey. It makes me enjoy the sport a lot more knowing that I play in the same state as the Bolts when they’re doing so well,” said Steinbrenner hockey player junior Evan Shusterman.
Another thing that helps the Lightning motivate young players is that some of the people on the team aren’t that much older than they are. One of the team’s top scorers Brayden Point is only 22 years old, and was barely older than most high school players when he joined the team in 2015. There’s also Mikhail Sergachev, a defenseman for the team who is only 19 years old. Even 23 year old Andrei Vasilesky can be a motivator for high school players. Vasilesky was first drafted when he was 18 years old, and began really playing for the Lightning when he was 20. Now three years later, he is arguably one of the best goaltenders in the NHL, and he isn’t significantly older than many high schoolers. These kinds of players show that one doesn’t have to be in their mid twenties and have the most experience on the team to be incredibly successful.
“A lot of the kids get inspired in the hope that they can one day play on those teams or even teams close to that level, and having young players on the teams really does help everyone stay motivated,” said hockey player junior William Sorsby.
Although the rest of the playoffs are uncertain for the bolts, winning the Eastern conference for the regular season and getting as far as they have in the playoffs is certainly exciting for fans and will continue to motivate aspiring players.
“I think that a lot of people that struggle with certain skills can look up to the Lightning as role models. A lot of them want to be like those players and I think that it really inspires all of us to work harder and push ourselves,” said Sorsby.
Grace Becker // News Editor