Alexandra Devine – Mustangs Ahead

(LAKEWOOD RANCH, FL) – Many people believe that ice hockey, a typical winter sport played in cold climates, cannot survive in warmer climates.

Some ice hockey fans on social media do not believe that states such as Arizona, Florida, California, Texas, and even Nevada cannot sustain the sport of hockey.

However, the professional teams in these states have continued to counter these opinions, having tremendous on-ice success and even increasing the number of youth players and teams.

Recently, the Tampa Bay Lightning won back-to-back Stanley Cups, a feat that has not been completed since the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2017. That surge of success led to a huge increase in viewership and game attendance.

LRHS junior Natalie Thomas said southern hockey teams actually have advantages to their cold weather rivals.

“Teams in warmer climates can host more people. They can do fun events outside and host watch parties,” she said. “This allows hockey to expand its audience because more people are able to watch with or without the expensive ticket prices.

“Everywhere you go there are people wearing Lightning jerseys, hats, or shirts. This isn’t just during hockey season either, it’s all year round. There are also many ice rinks around the area for both professional and amateur teams,” she said.

The Lightning have been among the top teams in game attendance and have sold out every home game for almost six years.

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The Dallas Stars led the National Hockey League (NHL) in home attendance for the shortened 2020-2021 season, despite not being in the typical ice hockey market.

Junior Estee Goltsman said, “The weather outside doesn’t determine what goes on inside the arena. Snow doesn’t necessarily make one team better than another.”

While watching the games on a screen is already a great experience, fans believe that in-person games totally amplify the excitement level of hockey. It is a surreal feeling, especially seeing the game from all angles.

Thomas continued, “I have been a Season Ticket Member (STM) for five years now. The people around your seats at games become your friends for the night and you can talk to them about the team. It creates a great community of people and an amazing experience.”

Goltsman continued, “The energy in the crowd is unmatched and it’s so fun to root for the same team with other people.”