Tampa Bay Lightning: 50 Greatest Moments In Franchise History

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Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

13. Tampa Bay Lightning Play First-Ever NHL Game At Expo Hall

Date: October 7, 1992

It had been almost two years since history had been made in the National Hockey League. On December 6, 1990 then-NHL President John Ziegler would address the hockey world and announce that a conditional franchise had been awarded to former New York Rangers captain and Hall of Fame player Phil Esposito and the Tampa Bay Hockey Group. This team would come to be known as the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Just a couple of weeks later, on December 20, 1990, the National Hockey League Board of Governors would vote to award the Lightning a permanent franchise, which would be set to debut in the 1992-93 season. A dream had been fulfilled, and a place better known for its sunshine and beaches would make their way into a sport that was built upon snow covered hills and frozen ponds.

The hard part had been completed, the Tampa Bay Lightning were officially in business. Now, all that was left to do was put together a team of players and get out on the ice. That sounds simple enough, right? Well, as most of you know by now, Phil Esposito did just that. He got the job done, and on October 7, 1992 the Tampa Bay Lightning would take the ice for the very first time.

Unfortunately for this young franchise, they did not have a fancy arena like some other teams in the league, but as they always say “where there is a will, there is a way.” The Tampa Bay Lightning would call the Expo Hall at the Florida State Fairgrounds their home for their first season, before relocating to Tropicana Field the very next season.

When the Tampa Bay Lightning took the ice on October 7th to kick off the 1992-93 season, they had a real challenge in front of them. The Bolts would be taking on one of the “Original Six” teams, the Chicago Blackhawks. Prior to taking on the Lightning, the Blackhawks already had three Stanley Cup Championships under their belts. Needless to say, they knew their way around the ice.

Fortunately for the Tampa Bay Lightning, you would never know it by the way they played against the Lightning that night. When all was said and done that night, the Tampa Bay Lightning would defeat the Chicago Blackhawks 7-3. Tampa Bay Lightning forward Chris Kontos would be responsible for four of the Lightning’s goals, registering the first-ever Tampa Bay Lightning hat trick.

Also recording goals in the Lightning’s inaugural game was Lightning defenseman Marc Bergevin and forwards Anatoli Semenov and Ken Hodge. Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Wendell Young would end the evening making 23 saves on 26 shots on goal, giving the Nova Scotia native a Save Percentage of .885.

The Tampa Bay Lightning has been through a lot of ups and downs since their first game as a member of the National Hockey League. As has been said many times before, “the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” This decisive win over the Chicago Blackhawks would be that very step, of which would pave the way for the team the Tampa Bay Lightning are today.

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