More than 60 players from the ages of 9-60 traveled from as far as Kissimmee and Daytona to the Brandon Ice Sports Forum to compete in the newly reintroduced Tampa Bay Lightning Shootout Challenge.
In the all-day event contestants separated into three different age brackets – Squirt/Peewee, Bantam/Midgets and Over 30 – were broken up into two groups that consisted of shooters and goalies. Each shooter showed their best stick skills on each goalie in the competition. Depending on age, shooters were allowed three to five shots.
After the initial round the best 10 shooters and the top four goalies from each group went head-to-head in the semifinal round. Semifinal winners then advanced to the finals, which will be held at the Tampa Bay Times Forum on three separate occasions in March.
Tucker Tassone is one shooter who will appear during the intermission of the Lightning game on March 10 and his love for hockey dates back to his birth.
“I was named after the former Lightning player Darcy Tucker and I wear his jersey No. 16,” Tassone said. “I picked up my first hockey stick around the age of three and pretended to skate around the house. Then I moved to roller blades and at age five I started playing ice hockey.”
Not only has Tassone been a Lightning fan his whole life, but he also got to pump up a packed Times Forum after being picked as the game’s “Dream Kid.” He also said he will never forget being able to stand next to players during the National Anthem of that game.
“I’m excited to be skating on the same ice as [Steve] Stamkos and [Martin] St. Louis,” Tassone said. “I hope to put the puck in the net!”
In addition to bragging rights, finalists like Tassone will receive free tickets to the game in which their age bracket is competing.
Here’s All The Finalists Coming to an Intermission Near You:
Squirt/Peewee to appear on March 10
Finalists: Tucker Tassone, 13, shooter from the Scorpions Peewee AA team; Jonah Duchesne-Shaw, 12, goalie from the Gulf Coast Flames; Dillon Garasz, 11, goalie from the Jr. Bulls; Tyler Stowe, 11, shooter
Bantam/Midgets to appear on March 17
Finalists: Matthew Gelston, 15, shooter from Freedom High School; Jimmy Jones, 18, shooter from Freedom High School; Kyle Helmstetter, 18, goalie from the Seminole Sharks; Joey Robison, 18, goalie who plays at TBSA
Over 30 to appear on March 27
Finalists: Chip Erwin, 56, shooter; James Mickelson, 30, shooter; Kevin Mattison, 30, goalie; RJ Isom, 30, goalie