Knights In Shining Armor

By Dylan Ramsay
Jan. 18, 2018

Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports
Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

The first day in October was the worst we as a country had ever seen. 58 people were killed and 527 people were injured in the Mass Shooting in Las Vegas, Nevada. Throughout the entire month, fellow Las Vegas residents waited on lines, ready to donate blood to help the victims. The day after, 15 players from the Las Vegas hockey team, the Golden Knights, went down to the Las Vegas Police Department to bring smiles to the officers, families , and children .

"To be able to see these people smile after what they've been through the last few days, it's all worth it," defenseman Jon Merrill said. "You forget about the impact we're able to have as athletes on people, to bring some distraction and smiles to people's faces."

October 6 was the Golden Knight’s Inaugural game in the NHL -they faced the Dallas Stars in Dallas. Before the American National Anthem, the Stars players skated behind the Golden Knights players (who were on the opposite blue line) to show unity between the two cities. “Tonight, Dallas stands with Vegas and those affected by the horrifying tragedy this past Sunday. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and friends of the victims of this terrible act. May they find strength and perseverance during this time of grieving,” said the Stars announcer. Both teams and the Stars fans stood in silence for the victims of the Vegas Tragedy.

The Golden Knight’s second game was in Arizona, against the Coyotes, who didn’t stand behind the Golden Knights players. However, the stadium held a moment of silence for the victims, and Coyotes fans held signs saying, “We’re Vegas Strong!” The signs had photos of both team’s logos. The unity in the hockey community was astounding, especially for two rival teams. Nothing would compare for Vegas’ first home game of the season.

October 10, 2017 will be a day that will never be forgotten in both Vegas hockey history and NHL history . Prior to the game, the Golden Knights had a hard time scoring . They won both their away games at Dallas and Arizona with comeback victories led by James Neal; however, something about that night was different. The Golden Knights weren’t just playing for their fans in the T-Mobile Arena- they were playing for their city.

The opening ceremony started with a video honoring the first responders during the Las Vegas tragedy . The video showed doctors, registered nurses, firefighters , police, K9-unit, swat, whilst the song “Warriors” by hometown band, Imagine Dragons, was playing in the background. After the video they honored the first responders in person while announcing the Golden Knights roster.

One by one , first responder’s names were announced to thunderous applause by the fans in the arena. The first responders would meet a player, shake their hands, and be thanked by said player as they walked (skated) down the blue line in preparing for the National Anthem. Even the Head coach Gerard Gallant, and General Manager George McPhee stood next to them.

The Arizona Coyotes came out onto the ice, and they took their place behind the Golden Knights players, who were behind the first responders. The announcer asked the entire arena to stand with the team in silence for 58 seconds to remember the 58 lives lost on October 1 . After the moment of silence, the Route 91 Festival Team sang the National Anthem, and the entire stadium joined in.

The Golden Knights defenseman Deryk Engelland, took the microphone to share some words of wisdom with the local Vegas residents. He told the crowd of 18,191, “Like all of you, I'm proud to call Las Vegas home, I met my wife here. Our kids were born here. I know how special this city is. To all the brave first responders that have worked tirelessly and courageously through this whole tragedy, we thank you. To the families and friends of the victims, we'll do everything we can to help you and our city heal. We are Vegas Strong."

It was short and sweet, but it was a well-done speech that inspired those who were attending the game and watching at home. Sports can serve as a distraction to ongoing politics in the real world, but they can also bring a community together in times of crisis. The Vegas Golden Knights did just that with their opening ceremony.

For the game , however, it was special. Not being able to score in the first period was a detriment to the team. That ended with Tomas Nosek scoring within two minutes of the game, sending the crowd into a thunderous applause. Nosek’s goal was followed up by none other than Deryk Engelland scoring the second goal about two minutes later.

Then “The Real Deal” James Neal scored twice, two minutes after Engelland, and four minutes after he scored. The Knights chased Coyotes goalie Antti Raanta out of net, who was replaced by Louis Domingue for the rest of the game. The Coyotes forward Tobias Rieder scored two minutes after Neal, but it was too late for the Coyotes.

The Golden Knights won 5-2, they became the first expansion team in the 100 years of the NHL’s existence to win their first three games. The worst day in Las Vegas, was forgotten, residents and fans could forget the pain, and enjoy the Golden Knights victory. It wasn’t just the fans celebrating, the Golden Knights players gathered to the center of the ice and raised their sticks, saluting the crowd, right next to them were the Coyotes. Despite losing, they raised their sticks with the Golden Knights. They may be rivals, but that night both teams were “Vegas Strong!”

“There are many moments in sports that remind us that sports themselves are just games. Often, these same moments also exhibit the fact that these games help people heal, carry on, feel normal, if only for a couple hours. October 10, 2017 in Las Vegas was one of those moments.”