Maria

Growing up in a different part of the world, where soccer is more popular than hockey, it delayed my involvement and interest in this great game. In my country, Bulgaria, I played mainly volleyball and practiced martial arts throughout college. I remember catching hockey games from time to time on TV with Scandinavian and Russian teams for the European Championships, but I was not aware how much more exciting was to be there in person. When I moved to California 10 years ago, I was introduced to the typical American sports, baseball and football, but did not find them entertaining enough for my taste. Unlike the East Coast states, where hockey is very popular, here in Southern California with all the sunshine and beautiful beaches, there is not much thinking about ice and winter sports.  

On December 2008, I attended my first Kings game at Staples Center, Los Angeles, CA. 

The atmosphere was electric; the fans were filled with anticipation of the upcoming game with great hopes for victory. In their eyes I saw that hockey was more than a game, it was a big part of their lives. Shortly after that, I learned about the entire Kings organization, their care for the fans, the involvement in different charities and I understood how it felt to be a Kings and hockey fan. Their excitement was coming not only from attending games, but being given the opportunity to participate in different events such as autographs signing, tours behind the scenes with the team, cruises, parties, golf tournaments and many more. I instantly fell in love with the team, the fans and Bailey (the great lion and the Kings mascot.) 

The big thrill came in 2009-2010 season, when the team made it to the playoffs after 8 long years. The Kings earned their playoff spot with new, young and talented players, excellent coaching, strategies, hard work and great performance. A couple highlights of their success last season is a franchise long 9-game winning streak and sending five Kings to the Olympics (Drew Doughty – Canada, Dustin Brown, Jack Johnson & Jonathan Quick – USA, Michal Handzus – Slovakia.) Upon return from the Olympics, the Kings continued their run toward the playoffs and proved to myself and other fans what we already knew; hockey in Southern California is as good as it gets!

Despite a tough 6 games series with the Vancouver Canucks and being eliminated on home ice, our team showed a tremendous amount of desire, heart and pride. Being a part of the playoff atmosphere was like nothing I’ve experienced and sealed my love for hockey for years to come.
 

The expectations for the upcoming season is even greater with learned lessons, more experience, confidence and motivation from players and coaches. I will continue following the development of the Kings and the organization, because once you become a hockey fan, you are a fan for life.  

 

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