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Brazilian fan part of #DistantThunder

Amarante found Lightning after watching 2004 Stanley Cup Final

by @nhl /

#DistantThunder: Rafael

Brazilian Rafael became the Thunder from afar

Rafael is a Lightning fan from Brazil. We are rallying Lightning fans from around the world. Share your story using #DistantThunder

  • 02:50 •

Brazil isn't the first country you'd look to for hockey fans, but the Tampa Bay Lightning have a big one in Rafael Amarante.

The 27-year-old is a teacher at a school in Rio Grande do Sul, a coastal town of about 250,000 in the southeastern part of the country.

"It's lonely being a hockey fan in Brazil," Amarante said in a video posted by the Lightning. Of his city, he said, "I am the only hockey fan."

The Lightning have created the social media message #DistantThunder to reach out to their international fans.

Amarante said he watched the Lightning in the 2004 Stanley Cup Final against the Calgary Flames and became engrossed in the speed and passion of the game.

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"I just loved how hard the Lightning played," he said. "They made me a believer. I've been passionate for the game ever since."

He said his favorite players on the current team are forward Nikita Kucherov and defenseman Victor Hedman.  

"Kucherov is so skilled and unpredictable with the puck," Amarante said. "His hand/eye coordination is unbelievable. He's going to be a big star."

Amarante has never been to the United States but said he's met other Lightning fans around the world through Internet fan message boards.

"I've met so many fans just like me online," he said. "Europe, Canada, even Australia. We're everywhere. … We are the global Lightning fans."

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