Sunday, June 18, 2023 | 2 a.m.
Some three hours after the Golden Knights won the Stanley Cup on Tuesday night, a man and his two young sons walked through Toshiba Plaza.
Dressed in Golden Knights apparel, they were taking pictures and smiling with pure joy to be part of the championship-winning moment.
They weren’t fortunate enough to be inside T-Mobile Arena for the series-clinching game against the Panthers but headed to the Strip to join the postgame festivities.
The crowd near the arena was still heavy with delirious fans and supporters basking in Stanley Cup glory, surely giving this family a memory they won’t soon forget.
The same is true for the hundreds of thousands of other fans across the valley. They got to take part in history — our Las Vegas history.
It’s important to remember: The Golden Knights won this championship for us, living up to their “Vegas Born” mantra. This is, and always will be, a team for the people who call the 702 home.
Shortly after the game ended, the team posted a message on social media that made my eyes start to water: “HOME MEANS NEVADA FOR LORD STANLEY’S CUP!!!!”
Visitors know our city for its great tourism and entertainment options. Others have relocated here in recent years for better opportunities.
But many of us have been here for decades and will stay for decades more.
Kudos to the franchise, which during the greatest moment in its history, decided to play our state anthem “Home Means Nevada.” A gesture like that is very meaningful, especially to us lifelong residents.
It’s the kind of community-first thinking the Golden Knights have built their franchise on in developing a loyal fan base.
After all, many of us love the team because of how it has loved us, especially on that emotional night of Oct. 10, 2017, for the franchise’s first home game.
A perfectly executed pregame tribute honoring the victims and first responders of the Oct. 1, 2017, mass shooting on the Strip that immediately claimed 58 lives and injured at least 500 people showed us the Golden Knights had our backs.
Tears were still drying when the game started, and Vegas responded with four goals in the initial 10:42 against the Arizona Coyotes in a victory that turned out to be one of the great nights in our city’s history.
We were instantly hooked on the team and the sport.
The championship was significant for many reasons, including reaffirming the desert city of Las Vegas as a great hockey market. But for those impacted by the shooting, it was more meaningful because cheering during the playoff run provided more nights of healing.
Many of us know someone who was at the shooting or had family there — something I was reminded of Thursday when opening my social media. My friend Patrick Amico, whose father, Pat, was one of the heroes that night, transporting 10 victims to the hospital in the bed of his truck, summarized it best.
“Route 91 survivors heal when they watch the Vegas Golden Knights because they all remember what the Knights did for them, and how they tried to serve everyone,” he posted. “That’s why this team means so much to our city and to me. We are #VegasBorn. We are #VegasStrong and we are Stanley Cup champions.”
Stanley Cup champions sounds nice.
It was awesome seeing the children, like the boys with their father at Toshiba Plaza, getting a chance to live the moment. It’s a memory that will last them a lifetime, reminding me of that night in 1990 when the UNLV basketball team won the national championship over Duke.
More than 30 years later, many of us locals can still recite the score (103-73), date (April 2, 1990) and who we watched the game with. I was home with my mom, the biggest Rebel fan of them all.
A new generation of fans will not forget the score of the Golden Knights’ clinching game — 9-3 in Game 5 — and the date June 13, 2023, and who we watched the game with.
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