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Lightning being aided by higher source again

Florida Pastor Tyler Moore using signs to help Tampa Bay in second straight playoff run

by Pat Pickens @Pat_Pickens / Staff Writer

Despite a rash of injuries, the Tampa Bay Lightning keep winning during the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

They might be getting help from a higher source.

Tyler Moore, an assistant pastor at Our Savior Lutheran Church and School in St. Petersburg, Fla. has been creating and posting Lightning-related messages on the church's bulletin board throughout Tampa Bay's playoff run.

"It's really cool, because between the signs, I've gotten to connect with a lot of people," Moore said. "It's opening up doors, and I'm having conversations with people and helping them through tough times. It's been a lot of fun."

Moore unveiled his 15th message of the playoffs Monday that said "O Ye of Little Faith; Vasy Calmed the Storm," a reference to Tampa Bay goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy. Vasilevskiy came in after starter Ben Bishop was injured in the first period, making 25 saves in the Lightning's 3-1 win against the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Final on Friday in Pittsburgh.

Vasilevskiy is expected to start Game 2 on Monday (8 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports).

Moore was tempted to begin Lightning-related messages in 2014 but did not because the playoffs coincided with Easter. The Lightning were swept by the Montreal Canadiens in the first round that year.

Last spring, he decided it was time. His first message came a week before Tampa Bay's first-round series against the Detroit Red Wings and said "Jesus saves, Stamkos scores, Go Bolts." He posted the message without the approval of the parish's senior pastor.

"I wasn't sure if I was going to get in trouble," Moore said.

After the Lightning defeated the Red Wings in seven games, he posted "Angels Don't Have Red Wings," and the public began rallying around his messages. Moore created 31 different messages during the Lightning's run to the Stanley Cup Final last year.

Moore has dubbed himself Hockey Pastor and tweets mostly about the Lightning. He said the response to his messages have been mostly positive, and the signs have enhanced the congregation's community feeling and pushed parishioners into Lightning fandom.

"The people want to know what the signs mean," Moore said. "The Lightning are all over the news down here, and people are definitely on board."

Moore attended Lightning games growing up in St. Petersburg, but began following them intensely in 2010-11 before their run to the Eastern Conference Final. With the Lightning three wins from their second straight Stanley Cup Final, Moore is excited at the prospect of the Cup coming to central Florida.

But Moore lived in St. Louis four years, and he is anxious about a Cup Final meeting with the Western Conference Finalist, St. Louis Blues.

"I have so many friends there still," Moore said. "The trash talk with them has already begun."

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