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Photos By Chris Smith

Fans flock to City National Arena for every practice hoping to get a glimpse of their favorite players and watch the team prepare for the Western Conference Championship series, which starts on Saturday, May 12.

Fans: Knights Came At Just The Right Time

Las Vegas fans have been called one of the greatest, if not the greatest sets of fans in the NHL.

At City National Arena earlier this week, some 500 fans showed up to watch the team's hour-long practice.

Having advanced through the first two rounds of the playoffs, the Knights are trying to win their way into the Stanley Cup finals.

Fans spoke of gratitude for the team for coming along as they did, with the first game of the season happening right after the October 1 shooting.

Thomas Nagano, 36 is a Las Vegas native and dedicated Knights fan/Photos by Chris Smith

Thomas Nagano, a 36-year-old server on the Strip and a Las Vegas native, sat in the bleachers watching the practice wearing shiny gold and black shoes, a Golden Knights baseball cap and a Bill Karlsson shirt. He had a white Golden Knights fan-towel hanging over his shoulder.

"It's just telling the world that Vegas is a real city and we're not just one street," he said. "It shows that […] in the past people might think Vegas doesn't know anything about sports, but you put a professional sport in our backyard […] and even at 10 in the morning we're going to show up and root you on. And you're a part of us, we're all in this together and -- Vegas strong."

Support comes from

Thomas Nagano wears his Golden Knights kicks to all games and practices/Photos by Chris Smith/Desert Companion

The northwest corner of the observation area around the practice rink is reserved for parents with young children. 

Martina Amaroso was there with her daughter, Angelina Raykova, an 11-year-old fifth grader at Goolsby Elementary. Angelina wore a Golden Knights hoodie that her mom has a hard time prying away to wash.

"She would sleep in it -- it's pretty bad," Martina said.

Angelina was never really into sports, she said until the team got here.

"It gets me really excited, you know like, whooo!" she said.

Angelina Raykova, an 11-year-old fifth grader at Goolsby Elementary/Photos by Chris Smith/Desert Companion

Goalie Marc-Andre Fleury and Reilly Smith are her favorite players.

Angelina's mom pulled her out of school to watch practice, she said, because "it's an experience you can't replace."

Amaroso feels like the team "is the backbone of Las Vegas."

"They're pretty much the misfits and, I don't know, the whole thing just works so well together and they have such a positive energy," she said. "And everybody's from somewhere -- not a lot of people are native to Vegas, so it gives us something to belong to and gets us very excited. They're a force of nature, I guess."

Amaroso also had friends at the outdoor festival where 58 people were killed. Hundreds were also shot, including two people Amaroso knows.

"So it means more to me," she said of the team. "They came at a time we needed healing and distraction, and I think that's what they gave us."

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Chris Smith

Fans flock to City National Arena for every practice hoping to get a glimpse of their favorite players and watch the team prepare for the Western Conference Championship series, which starts on Saturday May 12. 

(Editor's note: This story originally aired May 2018)

Guests

Martina Amaroso, Golden Knights fan; Angelina Raykova, Golden Knights fan; Thomas Nagano, Golden Knights fan

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