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Yo Ho Buckos: The Tampa Bay Lightning Celebrate Gasparilla with Special Jerseys and a Win

Courtesy of Tampa Bay Lightning

Every city has something that makes it unique. Pirates have had a special spot in Tampa’s culture. Every year, the city puts on a month-long festival: Gasparilla. The whole city takes part, embracing the character. In particular, the Tampa Bay Lightning takes it to the next level by hosting a Gasparilla themed night that is not only a hockey game, but a proud display of Tampa’s culture.

Courtesy of Chris Urso- Tampa Bay Times

Gasparilla is one of Tampa’s most beloved traditions that began over 100 years ago. The festival was named after the legendary pirate Jose Gaspar, who supposedly terrorized the West Florida coast for years during the 18th and 19th century. When he died, legend says he left a large fortune buried somewhere around the Tampa area. Though nothing has ever been discovered, Gaspar’s story and his memory live on through this festival. It begins every year with a mock pirate invasion and parade in the city of Tampa, and continues with various festivities. 

Besides having an impact on the city’s culture, the pirate theme has also had an impact on Tampa’s sports teams. Most obviously, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers carry on that theme with their pirate mascot. However, one of the most unique sporting event experiences is what the Tampa Bay Lightning does each year in hosting their Gasparilla themed game.

Courtesy of and Tampa Bay Lightning

The most anticipated part of the Gasparilla game is the limited edition warm up jerseys that are released before the Gasparilla game. Every year the Lightning come up with a new set of designs to represent the pirate culture. The jerseys feature a pirate themed skull with swords going through the skull. The cupped guard of the swords are shaped like lightning bolts. On the forehead of the skull is the Lightning’s logo. A patch on the left shoulder has a ship’s steering wheel, also known as the helm, with the Lightning's alternate logo in the center. Fans across the league have been super impressed by these Jerseys, with one fan on social media saying “they look awesome, they should stick with these…” instead of the jerseys that they usually wear.

This year’s Gasparilla themed game was against the New Jersey Devils. Beginning with the first period, it was quickly evident that the game was going to be a close one. The Lightning quickly took control of the puck during the first ten minutes. Their goaltender, Andrei Vasilevskiy, made a quick glove save on an odd man rush from Devils’ right winger Tyler Toffoli. The first period ended scoreless, but the Lightning had nine shots-on-goal to the Devils’ six.  

Courtesy of Morgan Tencza- USA Today Sports

Early in the second period, Lightning right winger Nick Paul opened the scoring by tipping in a shot from Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman past the Devils’ goaltender Vincent Vanecek. A few minutes later, Lightning right winger Brandon Hagel doubled the Lightning’s lead by scoring a tight rebound shot past Vanecek. 

Devils’ left winger Ondrej Palat scored the first goal of the third period by sneaking a rebound goal past Vasilevskiy. Not to be outdone, Lightning left winger Steven Stamkos swept in his own goal past Vanecek. Devils’ right winger Jesper Bratt scored the third goal of the period, trickling a goal past Vasilevskiy, making it a one-goal game again. The Lightning retaliated a few minutes later when center Brayden Point, who was alone in the slot, fired a shot past Vanecek. Devils’ Toffoli followed that up with an attack shot, bringing the game back to a one-goal game again. However, a minute later, Hagel scored an empty net goal and his second goal of the night when the Devils benched Vanecek. The Lightning finished the game off with Point scoring his second goal of the night and another empty netter. 

This year’s Gasparilla game was definitely one to remember. The game is a fun way to bring together the city’s pirate culture and the sport of hockey. The special jerseys pay homage to the pirate legends that make Tampa’s culture so unique. The Tampa Bay Lightning proved that there is no better way to kick-off Gasparilla than with a win!

Edited by Giana Robertaccio

Social Media Content Created by Caroline McGuinness


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