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Preseason Opener In Vancouver A Long Time Coming For Golden Knights

Sunday's first preseason game for the Golden Knights is the culmination of many years of waiting for Vegas

by Dan Marrazza @GoldenKnights / VegasGoldenKnights.com

In the early afternoon hours on Saturday, a special scene unfolded at City National Arena

With the Golden Knights' new practice facility packed to capacity for an early training camp scrimmage, the crowd stood in unison as the final seconds ticked off the clock.

With nothing on the line in the standings, with no opponent, with seemingly no more significance than the players' pride and roster spots on the line, the crowd stood in unison to give the Golden Knights a standing ovation.

While yes, this was only a scrimmage, it was a token of appreciation from a grateful crowd that's begun embracing the Golden Knights.

Vegas' team.

Tweet from @GoldenKnights: 9:00 Saturday morning. Players haven't taken the ice yet, but a full crowd is here waiting for them anyway. pic.twitter.com/rSOnP5GuyJ

 

It was also the final time the home crowd will see the boys in grey, black and gold before the Golden Knights embark for the team's preseason opener in Vancouver on Sunday.

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"That was pretty cool," Golden Knights center Oscar Lindberg said. "You don't see that too many times in training camp.

"The practice we had here, there was a lot of crowd out there. It shows how passionate the people are about the team coming in here."

No, tomorrow's game won't count in the standings, either. Neither did the Rookie Camp games - a 6-2 loss and a 4-0 win - against the Los Angeles Kings earlier this week in California.

The Golden Knights won't play a game that matters until the regular-season opener on October 6 in Dallas.

Yet, for a city embracing its first major league team, all of these games matter.

Even the exhibition games

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"I am ecstatic for tomorrow's first preseason game in Vancouver," said 20-year-old Golden Knights fan Brittani Sheehan, a Las Vegas resident the past 17 years. "It's definitely feeling real that Vegas not only has a hockey team but a first pro sports team.

"It's great to see people around and ask, 'hey, are you going to catch the Golden Knights game on Sunday?'

"I'm nervous, excited and emotional all in one.

"Finally, Vegas IS Hockey!"

 

Tweet from @GoldenKnights: First meeting of the Knights Of The Round Circle������ pic.twitter.com/OxfxMWEvup

 

For fans like Sheehan, the last 15 months have been a test in patience. While they've waited a lifetime in many cases for a team to arrive, the promise since June of 2016 will be that there will be a team representing their city soon.

And no matter how much patience they've showed throughout their lives when waiting for a team to arrive, it's an entirely different matter when the fantasy is finally in sight.

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This is why Sunday, a game that means nothing in the standings, and much less for the Canucks than the Golden Knights from a historical perspective, is something worth celebrating.

It's worth celebrating as a sign that the Golden Knights are officially here.

"It's almost like when we got the team, it's a relief," Golden Knights senior vice president Murray Craven, Bill Foley's right-hand man dating back to the earliest days of the franchise, said. "It's not ecstasy. It's like, we got here.

"For the longest time, it was always in question for many years. We're finally here.

"We're finally here."

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