Hundreds of fans were waiting for the Tampa Bay Lightning early Saturday morning when their flight arrived at Tampa International Airport Center, according to the Tampa Tribune.
The Lightning defeated the New York Rangers 2-0 in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final at Madison Square Garden to advance to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time since 2004.
Lightning coach Jon Cooper held up four fingers to the cheering fans, signifying the four more wins needed to win the Stanley Cup.
"I can't believe the fan support we have," Cooper told the newspaper. "... I know everybody on our plane, all the players, were looking out the window so excited to see these fans.
"The greatest thing in sports is to make the playoffs and play in front of your home fans who have been for you all year. And look at this behind us: It's 3:30 in the morning, there's 1,000 people here. It???s overwhelming."
Lightning video coach Nigel Kirwan carried the Prince of Wales Trophy through the crowd, allowing the fans to touch the trophy the Lightning received for winning the Eastern Conference.