Big night for Tampa Bay sports fans

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Thursday was a big night for sports in the Tampa Bay area.

The Tampa Bay Lightning faced the Florida Panthers in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

The Bolts fell to the Panthers, 5-3.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers also picked up a first-round draft pick. They were No. 26 in the draft and have 7 overall picks.

Graham Barton, center, from Duke, was a first-round pick of the Bucs.

The Bolts nation is saddened by this loss, but she said she is still proud of the team and will be rooting for them on Saturday.

Before the Bolts game, the energy from the crowd was electric.

“We’re home baby, we’re home! The Tampa Bay Lightning are home, go Bolts! ” Amy Galastegui said.

“We’re ready to show we own Florida, we own Florida! We’re running it here, Tampa Bay!” shouted a large group of fans.

Some fans said they had been cheering for the team for decades.

“I’m a huge fan, I’m the loudest person in this arena every time I walk in,” Galastegui said.

Fans were hoping that playing at home would help turn fortunes in their favour.

Another fan said: “We’re home now, we’ve been down by two points before in the first round so we’ll be OK.”

“It’s a great environment and a great community, look around, these are our employees!” shouted a group.

Meanwhile, at Raymond James Stadium, fans prepared as the Bucs made their first pick of the 2024 NFL Draft.

“I think it looks like we’re headed toward a defensive player, maybe a defensive end, or something like that,” Brandon Lee Wagner said before the team selected Barton. “It seems like a good choice. I’m sure they will make a good choice over whoever they choose. A good addition to the team.”

“I think we kept a lot of our key players, which is good, and I think if we build on that, we can do nice things, like win the Super Bowl,” Arden Detmer said.

The Bucs will make seven picks in the draft.

“I’m looking forward to it, it’s a nice little preseason preview,” Wagner said.

“We’ll be fine. It’s one of those things where you have to deal with what you need and who’s available. So, I think we’ll do good,” Detmer said.

Bucs and Bullets fans said cheering for their team is a family tradition.

“I was rooting for Lightning in diapers, I mean it’s just something that came naturally,” one fan said.

A tradition that some have passed on to their grandchildren.

“Huge, all they have is hockey. They get jerseys for Christmas, they know all the players’ names, all the players’ names and numbers,” two grandmothers said at the game.

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