Year 1 was a magical one, starting with the Expansion Draft and ending with the Golden Knights appearance in the Stanley Cup Final. Today’s Guest Post from Alex Norwood walks us through the magical season through the eyes of a fan who was there from the beginning.
I, like many others, was very excited to learn who would dawn the Vegas Golden Knights jersey after being taken by the Golden Knights in the 2017 Expansion Draft. During the draft, there was a great amount of excitement to know who exactly, we as fans, would be cheering for during their first season as a team.
As development camp and the preseason came to end, the horrific events of 1 October took place. It was in that moment, that the Knights showed they were not just a team, but that they were a part of the Vegas community.
What came next was unexpected for everyone, including fans of the Golden Knights. After great performances and two comeback wins on the road, it was time to play in front of the home fans, for real, for the first time, and it was not really about the game. Being in attendance for the Knights first-ever home game, for what the franchise did before puck drop, might have been the most moving moment of the season. It was not about hockey that night. It was about honoring those who lost their lives and those that put their lives on the line. At that point, everyone knew there was no chance of them losing their first home game.
After winning their third, and record-breaking game, the ride we were all unprepared for never ended. Nobody could have imagined an amazing 8-1-0 start to the season. As shocking as it was for the hockey and sports world, everyone in Vegas was witnessing the start of the most historic first season in sports history. It was already crazy to be a fan of a successful team, but what came next reassured us of what we were seeing.
After suffering three straight losses to Dallas, Minnesota, and Winnipeg, from November 28th to December 1st, the Golden Knights went on an unprecedented 13-game point streak which included six straight home wins. In the middle of that month-long run, I felt they were going to win no matter what. At that point, the team was 27-9-2 and the only thing I was worried about was that I did not want the loss column to go into double digits. And I, along with every Golden Knights fan, had completely lost my mind on how good this team really was.
As the season went on, everything was falling into place just like no one had expected. On March 26, 2018, VGK clinched its first-ever playoff berth. While listening to the first game of the season on the radio, a playoff berth was not even a thought in my mind. Shortly after that, I was lucky enough to see William Karlsson score the craziest goal I have ever seen, but to have it be the division winner, that made it even better. Personally, I knew the rest of the regular season did not really matter, but as a fan, I still wanted to see wins.
Then came the playoffs and everyone in the world was picking against the Golden Knights. However, as a fan, there was a different feeling going forward. At the beginning of the season, VGK fans expected a long year as we should have. At this time, we knew what the players could bring to the table and we knew they would be on their “A” game.
After the first sweep in Golden Knights playoff history against the Kings, everyone thought they would win the Stanley Cup and no team would stop them. Not only because the team was constantly proving the doubters wrong, but they also proved they could win those tough and low scoring games. Watching the series against the Sharks was a bit more stressful. Even though the fans had a great feeling about VGK moving on, there was a weird feeling about the series after a controversial Game 2 finish. That was quickly an afterthought after the Golden Knights completely outplayed the Sharks in Games 5 and 6 to end the series.
Then came the Western Conference Finals against the Winnipeg Jets. I was not the only one who thought this would be the toughest challenge all year for the Golden Knights. As a fan you must have faith in your team, but you must also realize when a formidable opponent is in front of you. After Game 1 that doubt could have taken over, but fans know the team they root for very well and we all knew the Golden Knights had great resilience. After a rough start in Game 1, VGK never looked back and took the next four games to move on to the Stanley Cup Final.
We all know how the Final ended, but being there while the Capitals celebrated a championship made me realize a couple of things. The first being that I cannot wait for the Golden Knights to take a victory lap with the Stanley Cup raised over their heads. I think every fan is with me on that. The second was a little harder to realize at that moment, but made me feel great despite what had happened. Of course it is hard to raise the cup, but it is harder to raise a city. From the very beginning, the message to the fans from the organization was that this season was for this city. Anything they could do to help heal and grow the identity of this place we call home. The Vegas Golden Knights did that perfectly and there is nothing more I could have ever asked for. It has been exactly one year since players started to call Vegas home and they have done so much more than we could have ever imagined.
They are #VegasBorn and we stand with them, but we are #VegasStrong and they proudly stand with us
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