DOVER, Fla. — The Tampa Bay Lightning play game two against the Panthers Thursday night and despite it being an away game, the team's presence was felt at home.
ThunderBug visited school number 1,000 hyping up hundreds of students wanting to feel like they're part of the team.
Students at Nelson Elementary, in Dover, got to go home with a hockey stick and ball from the Lightning as part of its Equip the Thunder Program.
“It's tremendous. It really is. It's very, very gratifying and very rewarding... To be in a place like this, to have 700 elementary students all cheer, you get all excited. And again, each of them walking out of here today with their own stick and ball and a Lightning t-shirt and it's, it's pretty cool," Jay Feaster, with the Lightning, said.
Over a seven-year period, 216,000 hockey sticks and balls have been given to 1st through 8th graders.
Thursday kids put their sticks to use as the Lightning wrapped up its 1,000th school visit with ball hockey clinics.
“I'm feeling really excited. And I can't wait to go play," Barrett Wyatt, a student at Nelson Elementary, said.
“You know, learning those skills growing the game of hockey that does not happen here every day at nelson. So we are truly honored that we were selected to be the 1,000th school. It's amazing. A giveback from the lightning is something that they're going to remember for a lifetime," Jason Pepe, the Principle of Nelson Elementary School, said.
Pepe told ABC Action News that the Lightning represent hard work and perseverance and they’re an inspiration for all of his students.
“I think I'm going to see if I can get my sister to kind of like teach her and play. I don’t know how to play but I'm going to learn!” Wyatt added.