TAMPA, Fla. — From playing on a small sheet of ice in Bogota, Colombia, a group of young hockey players stepped onto the ice former Tampa Bay Lightning stars.
“Rinks over there are super small,” Roy Tyndall, a 10-year old Colombian hockey player, said. “This one is super big. The other ones don’t have boards.”
“We had them skating at a mall,” Eric Tyndall, head coach of the Lightning Hockey Club of Columbia, added. “They had this small sheet of ice.”
This group of 8- to 11-years olds is wide-eyed, soaking in the experience under the guidance of former Tampa Bay Lightning players Jassen Cullimore and Mathieu Garon.
“Now I have learned small details, skating, and drills,” Coach Tyndall’s son said.
The Lightning Hockey Club of Colombia began five years ago with roller skating lessons. They’ve evolved into an ice hockey team and they’re hoping to become something much bigger.
“Beyond that ultimate goal is to get into the Olympics,” Tyndall said. “One day, I realize it’s going to be far in the future, but these are the first steps.”
The Lightning Made hockey department is training the kids all week before they play in a tournament in Miami later this week. The Colombian club had hoped to visit last year, but the pandemic pushed it back.
“This year, I contacted them again. They said we can do a camp specifically for you guys,” Tyndall said. “You are more than welcome to come here. I can’t tell you how unbelievably well they’ve taken care of us.”
The fun didn’t stop on the ice, the team was invited to the Lightning’s 8-0 Game 5 win over the Islanders.
The big club will go for the series-clinching win against the New York Islanders Wednesday night in New York. If the Lightning win, they'll head to the Stanley Cup Finals for a second straight year and have a chance to defend their title as world champs.