|Published:||May 24, 2012 11:30 PM EDT|
|Updated:||May 24, 2012 11:49 PM EDT|
LEE COUNTY, Fla.- Hockey fever isn't melting away any time soon, after the Florida Everblades captured the Kelly Cup last night.
The championship win is bringing a whole new meaning to ice hockey in Southwest Florida.
17-year-old Jon Davidson proudly suits up for the Junior Blades, a travelling hockey team, but watching the Florida Everblades claim the Kelly Cup gives him a new goal. "Even if i don't go pro, or at least semi-pro like the Everblades, that would still be amazing," he says.
He says skating in the same place as the now champs, and seeing their success, rallies more fans for the sport he loves.
"As they started winning going toward the Kelly Cup, fans started packing the stadium. I think a lot more people are gonna start coming to the games," he adds.
Recreation facilities director at Germain Arena, Dave Kessel, agrees.
"It worked out really well where we are in the middle of registration right now and I think we're gonna see a spike, like we did the last time we made it deep in the playoffs," he says.
Kessel expects the biggest increase to come in their Learn to Skate program, an 8 week course that teaches the fundamentals of how to skate.
Other young hockey players say the overtime thriller was a win for the whole community.
Troy Degler, another member of the Junior Blades, says, "People are like 'oh hockey in Florida?' But now it's a big, big part of Florida and keeps growing and growing."
He says he looks up to the team that is putting the city on the map. "It's a great inspiration, hopefully I can be in the same shoes as them someday, or should I say skates."
Jon Davidson adds, "it's amazing. It just adds another thing to Florida's hockey. FGCU has been to nationals, we've been to nationals twice, just adds a whole new level."
Ross Bartlett, another young hockey player, says, "it's pretty cool seeing the history, there's only 3 cups you can win in hockey."
Kessel says the Everblades players often visit the Junior Everblades practices and work with the kids.