Aaron and Rhonda Hawley never truly embraced how much the Vegas Golden Knights meant to them until late in the season.On March 29 Adidas Tyler Graovac Jersey , their 17-year-old daughter Brooke and two classmates were killed in a traffic accident in Huntington Beach, California. Since then, the Golden Knights have helped the Hawleys during their grieving process.And even with the team trailing the Washington Capitals 3-1 in the Stanley Cup Final, they and thousands of others haven’t lost hope and are sticking by their first-year team until the last horn sounds. Aaron Hawley said that’s how his little girl would want it.”Her being a soccer player, she would kick a girl in the shin with one second left in the championship game if that’s what it took,” Hawley said Wednesday. ”Brooke was a fighter, and that’s what this team is about, it never gives up to the very last second.”On Wednesday, for the team’s first practice in Las Vegas since being pushed to the brink of elimination, fans decked out in team jerseys and hats and knights helmets and kids with hockey sticks or pucks in their hands packed the Knights’ practice facility before they even took the ice. And 45 minutes before the scheduled practice Adidas Noah Hanifin Jersey , with nothing in front of them but a fresh sheet of ice, the fans broke into a chant of ”Go Knights Go!” Game 5 is Thursday night.”We have a chance to play in front of our fans like we have all year long, use that energy to show them that we are also proud to be here and do something great for the city,” said Knights center Pierre Edouard-Bellemare. ”The city has our backs. I’m not worried about that situation whatsoever. It’s us to the city, we want to win for them. Once again, it’s one game. That’s all we have to think right now.”Fan Jerrald Larkin, whose own daughter, Allyssa, played soccer with Brooke Hawley, said he started watching hockey in 1989 and was originally a Los Angeles Kings fan. ”But when VGK became a reality it was all in for them Adidas Alan Quine Jersey ,” he said. ”VGK has been such a great team and this year has been nothing short of amazing. Right from the beginning this year has been filled with many emotions and some ups and downs. There is no way we can count our team out and we are VGK proud with any outcome.”Larkin said he and his wife, Theresa, and their four daughters have been able to grow closer to many other fans because of hockey. While Theresa’s family is from Chicago and has been following sports their whole lives, Jerrald is from Vegas and never had a home team to cheer for other than the UNLV Runnin’ Rebels basketball team.Hawley’s dedication to the team led him and his wife to follow the Golden Knights to Washington, where they watched Game 3 at a restaurant and attended Game 4 at Capital One Arena.”As a native Las Vegan, I’m thrilled to see Golden Knights hockey get as much attention as the 1990 UNLV basketball team got,” Hawley said. ”I consider that a huge accomplishment. I’m worried next year what’s going to happen, because what fans don’t realize is what this eight-month team has accomplished, is something the Capitals have been waiting on for 44 years.”But it’s the handful of games he attended with Brooke by his side that will forever be imprinted in his mind.”With soccer practice, and a young girl’s social calendar Adidas Dougie Hamilton Jersey , she made as many games as she could,” Hawley said, fighting back tears. ”How wonderful it was to sit with her, cheering on our hometown team. She really enjoyed it. We actually got her extra tickets for one game to bring her friend A.J., who also died in the accident. Those are times I will cherish and thank the team for an unbelievable inaugural season. The memories.”—More Stanley Cup coverage: https://apnews.com/tag/StanleyCupFinals Seen Steven Stamkos? Is he healthy?The Eastern Conference No. 1 seed Tampa Bay Lightning sure hope so after Stamkos missed four of the last seven regular-season games with a nagging lower-body injury.After a torn meniscus in his right knee cost Stamkos several months and likely Tampa Bay a playoff spot last season, his status bears watching more than any other injured player going into the Stanley Cup playoffs.Stamkos was a full participant in practice Monday and said it’s ”the hope” to be ready for Game 1 Thursday when the Lightning host the New Jersey Devils.”Definitely a step in the right direction,” Stamkos told reporters in Tampa. ”Felt pretty good all things considered.”That’s a good sign for the Lightning, who got 100 points from Nikita Kucherov but count on Stamkos to be their top-line center and a big-time scorer on the power play.Tampa Bay’s opponent is hoping to get Marcus Johansson back after he missed New Jersey’s final 35 games with a concussion. Johansson has been cleared for contact, but not yet to play and said over the weekend he’s feeling better.In the West, the already-deep top-seeded Nashville Predators are on the verge of getting forward Calle Jarnkrok back after he missed almost the final month of the regular season with an upper-body injury. Jarnkrok had 16 goals and 19 assists for 35 points in 68 games with Nashville Adidas Julien Gauthier Jersey , which opens against Colorado.”I think he’s getting real close,” general manager David Poile said. ”We get into this time of the year, so I guess you’d have to say he’s day to day.”Washington Capitals coach Barry Trotz called forwards T.J. Oshie (lower body) and Jay Beagle (upper body) day to day, too. Oshie practiced Tuesday, while Beagle skated afterward with a more questionable status.”I feel good,” Oshie said. ”I feel right now I’m playing my best hockey. Obviously, I’ve rested a couple of games. But I feel like I’ve had the most energy and the most clarity out there then I did for a while there. Right there I feel at my best.”In the first round, they’ll have to deal with Columbus captain Nick Foligno, who’s ready to rejoin the Blue Jackets lineup after missing time with a lower-body injury.A few high-profile defensemen weren’t as fortunate, and their injuries could prove costly. Boston lost Brandon Carlo and Minnesota lost Ryan Suter to broken ankles Adidas Petr Mrazek Jersey , and Winnipeg won’t have Dmitry Kulikov with a back injury. Winnipeg faces Minnesota in the first round.It’s the second consecutive playoffs Carlo missed after he was concussed by Alex Ovechkin a year ago.”It’s the one thing he’s been looking forward to,” Krug said of Carlo. ”Obviously he went through it last year missing the time and this year he was excited for it. You feel awful. It’s a tough break.”Coach Bruce Cassidy said: ”It (stinks), honestly, for a guy that’s played almost every regular-season game. … It’s disappointing for me. He’s a well-liked guy on this team and done a lot, so that’s disheartening.”The Bruins are optimistic injured forwards Rick Nash, Riley Nash and Sean Kuraly will be ready for Game 1 against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday.”They’re all working that way,” Boston GM Don Sweeney said. ”Hopefully they’ll all be available.”—AP Sports Writer Teresa M. Walker in Nashville, Tennessee, contributed.—

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