BY DEVON CONWAY
Gasparilla isn’t the only prominent event happening in Tampa during over this coming weekend. Tampa has been selected to host the 63rd annual NHL All-Star weekend, taking place at Amalie Arena from Jan. 26-28. The main events include the skills competition on Saturday, Jan. 27, starting at 7 p.m. and the All-Star game on Sunday, Jan. 28, starting at 3:30 p.m.
All-Star weekend is filled with numerous events to entertain the youngest and oldest fans. For the young fans, every NHL mascot will be available for a meet and greet, as well as participating in a dodgeball tournament on Friday, Jan. 26, at 8 p.m., a relay-race on Saturday, Jan. 27, at 2 p.m., a dance competition at 5 p.m. and a bean bag toss on Saturday, Jan. 28, at 12:30 p.m. After each event, the mascots will participate in a parade, a warm up and stretching session led by the Bolts own mascot, Thunderbug and group photos. Selected young fans will be chosen to participate in the warm up and cool down with the mascots as well.
For the older fans, on Friday, Jan. 26, starting at 8 p.m. at Curtis Hixon Park, Fitz and the Tantrums will be headlining the kickoff concert. The two-hour free concert will feature special guests, including All-Star P.K. Subban from the Nashville Predators and other musical performances.
For Gasparilla, on Saturday, Jan. 27, the NHL advises that all guests arrive before 11 a.m. and check for road closures due to the parade and heavy traffic.
According to NHL.com, the roster for the skills competition has yet to be released, but the events include the Enterprise NFL fastest skater, Dunkin’ Donuts NHL Passing Challenge, GEICO NHL Save Streak, Gatorade NHL Puck Control Relay, the PPG NHL Hardest Shot, and the Honda NHL Accuracy Shooting competitions. Eight players each will compete in the fastest skating challenge, skating as fast as possible for a timed lap around the rink.
Eight players will also compete in the passing challenge, consisting of target passing, give and goes, and mini nets. Five goalies and 36 skaters will participate in the save streak, a shootout grouped by division where goalies compete to make the most consecutive saves.
Eight players will compete in the puck control relay, a single-round times event that includes stickhandling, cone control, and gates. Six players will compete in the hardest shot competition, each getting two attempted to fire a shot on net. Lastly, eight players will compete in the accuracy shooting, a timed event where a shooter is positioned 25 feet from the goal line and shoots pucks at five LED targets in the net.
Felipe Tellez, a recent UT graduate and current employee in the UT athletic department purchased a weekend pass to both events.
“With the Lightning ranked first in the NHL and having four All-Stars selected, I have been waiting for the All-Star weekend to happen in Tampa. Now, I am able to wake up in the morning and walk to the event, I’m so excited,” said Tellez.
On Sunday, Jan. 28, the NHL red carpet will begin at 1 p.m., giving the fans a chance to meet their favorite NHL players and get pictures and autographs. Before the game, fans will also get the chance to see the NHL trophy showcase and take a photo with the Stanley Cup. Fans will be able to test their hockey skills before the game at the All-Star Skills Zone. During the second intermission, multiplatinum-selling singer/songwriter Kid Rock will perform.
The excitement starts at 3:30 p.m. when the Metropolitan division takes on the Atlantic division, followed by the Central division facing the off against the Pacific division at 4:30 p.m. The final game between each winner of each game begins at 5:30 p.m.
Devon Conway can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org