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NHL Draft

Vegas fans celebrate Golden Knights' first NHL Draft

Three first-round selections get huge cheers during watch party at T-Mobile Arena

by Mike Cranston / Correspondent

LAS VEGAS -- Gunnar Roksvold was prepared as he waited for the Vegas Golden Knights draft watch party to begin at T-Mobile Arena on Friday. The 11-year-old reached into his bag and pulled out a helmet.

"I'm going to try to get autographs!" he yelled.

He succeeded, as new Golden Knights players Jason Garrison, Brayden McNabb and Reid Duke signed their names for fans just before Vegas made three selections in the first round of the NHL Draft presented by adidas.

"We're season ticket holders," Gunnar's father, Mike Roksvold, said. "We were here for the awards show the other night and the place was rocking. We're really excited and we can't wait."

The Golden Knights opened the doors to their home arena and put the draft telecast on the big screen. After taking center Cody Glass with the No. 6 pick, Garrison, McNabb and Duke took questions in what's been a whirlwind week for the NHL's newest franchise.

"A lot of new faces," said Garrison, selected Wednesday from the Tampa Bay Lightning in the NHL Expansion Draft presented by T-Mobile. "We've just got to become familiar with one another and create a bond."

Video: The guys catch up with Vegas coach Gerard Gallant

The crowd cheered as soon as owner Bill Foley and general manager George McPhee were shown on the big screen from the draft in Chicago. The loudest applause came after McPhee thanked "the fans at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas."

The crowd erupted again when Glass put on a white Golden Knights jersey before being interviewed after becoming the first draft pick in franchise history.

The Golden Knights made numerous expansion draft trades that resulted in having three first-round picks on Friday.

Phil and Sally Grippo and their 14-year-old son Jacob took in the draft party from the front row. The Dekalb, Illinois, residents planned their trip to Las Vegas so they could attend the awards show, expansion draft and the draft watch party.

"We like to vacation here and try to come out here at least once a year," Phil Grippo said. "My son is a hockey player, so anyplace we can come and see hockey, we tend to do that."

They're a Chicago Blackhawks family, but Jacob wore a black Golden Knights T-shirt and matching hat.

"It's awesome," he said. "A lot of players I like are coming here. We're going to try to come out here and see some games."

Wendy Roksvold lived in Denver when the Colorado Avalanche moved there from Quebec in 1995. She lives in Las Vegas now and plans to be at T-Mobile Arena on Oct. 10 when the Golden Knights play their first home game, against the Arizona Coyotes.

"It's what this town needed," she said. "It's such a diverse group. There are people from all over the world here. We know so many hockey fans, so it was the right sport at the right time."

Video: Cody Glass talks with NHL Tonight

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