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Golden Knights fans celebrate Game 5 win against Jets in Las Vegas

Chants of 'We want the Cup' break out at watch party

by Lisa Dillman @reallisa / NHL.com Staff Writer

LAS VEGAS -- The chants rang out through Toshiba Plaza at 2:45 p.m. PT on Sunday, a sweaty and happy throng of Vegas Golden Knights fans celebrating the Golden Knights advancing to the Stanley Cup Final in their inaugural season.

"Go Knights Go. Go Knights Go," they cheered.

Then it took, oh, less than two minutes for a new common purpose to sink in, a new chant to shout, at the watch party after the Golden Knights' 2-1 win against the Winnipeg Jets in Game 5 of the Western Conference Final at Bell MTS Place.

 

[RELATED: Complete Jets vs. Golden Knights series coverage]

 

"We want the Cup. We want the Cup."

Vegas' improbable journey continues in the Cup Final against either the Tampa Bay Lightning or Washington Capitals. The Lightning lead that best-of-7 series 3-2. Game 6 is on Monday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVAS, SN1).

Video: Golden Knights' watch party celebrates WCF title

"I was biting my fingernails," said Golden Knights fan Ralph Sotelo, who lives in Henderson, Nevada. "I have no fingernails left."

Sotelo, who was born and raised in Las Vegas, prefers to be known as "Vegas Ralph." He never thought this day would come for his community.

"Never in my life, never in my wildest dreams," said Sotelo, his voice growing hoarse. "This is a dream come true for every sports fan that lives in Las Vegas that always wanted a sports team to come here. This is exactly what Las Vegas needed. We needed a sports team for years.

Tweet from @GoldenKnights: Hey VegasVEGAS!!!You ready for the Stanley Cup Final??? pic.twitter.com/EorXOYNIaY

"We always wanted a sports team and we knew we could make it work."

Toshiba Plaza is adjacent to the Golden Knights' home, T-Mobile Arena, and has been the happy epicenter of watch parties throughout the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

The viewing party on Sunday had a laid-back vibe - at least up until the tense final few minutes with the Golden Knights trying to protect a one-goal lead.

There was young and old. Old-timers and newcomers to Vegas. Hockey lifers and newbies.

Everyone was welcome.

"It just brought our city together," said Sara Schussler, a fan from Las Vegas. "Our city has every race. It's been a huge thing for our community. People didn't think hockey would really take off here and it really has."

Schussler is a kindergarten teacher at J.T. McWilliams Elementary School in Las Vegas.

"Our mascot is the Jets, actually," she said, smiling. "So our entire school dressed up like the Knights."

Video: VGK@WPG, Gm5: Golden Knights celebrate, shake hands

Dressing up was also the theme of the afternoon for some supporters. Ryan Rastovac, of Las Vegas, decided to dress up as a Golden Knight. It was a tough go, especially with temperatures near 90 degrees.

"I just had some extra armor laying around the house, and I was like, 'Let me paint it gold and let's go down there,' " he said. "I do Renaissance Fairs, so I had some extra pieces, and let me put something together for this."

Lee Orchard, who plays the Golden Knight in the team's fun and fanciful pregame extravaganza, was on hand for the watch party. Of course, he was in full costume and was posing for pictures afterward.

"Oh my God, this is just incredible," Orchard said. "We just said that we've got one banner to put next season, the Pacific Division champions. Now we've got a Western Conference champion banner to go up. Should we make it three?

Video: VGK@WPG, Gm5: Engelland, Vegas awarded Campbell Bowl

"Why not?"

Orchard got emotional when he talked about how it started in the fall. At their home opener on Oct. 10, the Golden Knights took the ice alongside first responders from the Oct. 1 shooting here that killed 58 people and there was a moment of silence lasting 58 seconds.

"You know what?" Orchard said. "This so far has been dedicated to the 58.

"Let's bring it home for them."

***

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