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Mikayla Whitmore / ESPN

Fans gather outside prior to Game 5 in the Stanley Cup Playoffs at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nev. on May 4, 2018. The San Jose Sharks lost 3 - 5.

The Man Behind The Music And Woman Behind The Lens

Mikayla Whitmore has caused quite a stir in hockeydom.

Earlier this week, the Las Vegas native's series of photos of Vegas Golden Knights fans adorned the pages of ESPN's website.

And the headline to the story?

"Sorry Detroit, Las Vegas is the new Hockeytown."

That didn't go over too well in Detroit. A television news station posted a story online with the headline "Sorry ESPN, Vegas can't compete with Detroit for Hockeytown title."

Mikayla Whitmore talking to Joe Schoenmann at City National Arena/Photos by Chris Smith

Whitmore said she has received a lot of pushback for the story -- but in all fairness she didn't pick the headline. ESPN did.

While she may not have written the headline, she stands by it.

"I know they have 50 plus years on us, but we're coming out of the gate swinging," she said. "And if they think they can do it better, prove it."

Whitmore spent four days photographing games, watch parties and practices.

She said it can be a little intimidating walking up to people to ask if they minded having their picture taken, but she found all Golden Knights fans were gracious and excited to talk about the team.

Support comes from

"I think Vegas is hungry and appreciative of anything that is ours and born here and that we can really invest in," she said. "We are a strong community and the timing around the shooting definitely drove more of a spirit to connect and be together and come together."

Steve Rico, age 48, plays a slot machine in the MGM Grand after Game 5 in the Stanley Cup Playoffs at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nev. on May 4, 2018.  The San Jose Sharks lost 3 - 5.  "This is the most exciting time there is. Hockey is uniting us."/Mikayla Whitmore / ESPN 

Fans watch a 18x32 LED screen during a game 6 watch party at the Henderson Pavilion in Nevada on May 6, 2018. Golden Knights won 3-0./Mikayla Whitmore/ESPN

Fans cheer during Game 5 in the Stanley Cup Playoffs at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nev. on May 4, 2018.  The San Jose Sharks lost 3 - 5./Mikayla Whitmore / ESPN


Another person who causes a stir every time he enters T-Mobile arena is Jake Wagner.

Wagner isn't well-known by sight to the thousands of Golden Knights hockey fans. But they certainly know his music.

He's the guy that spins the ominous "John Wick" theme song when the Knights take the ice. 

Jake Wagner talking to Joe Schoenmann at City National Arena/Photos by: Chris Smith

It is all part of an effort to get the crowd energized and leave a lasting impression. He wants to bring the same excitement to the T-Mobile Arena that he remembers as a kid watching the Las Vegas Thunder. 

"I kind of saw the power of music," he said. "They would play AC/DC's 'Thunderstruck' as the team was taking the ice. The lyrical content and correlation between the team and the music caught my interest and creativity."

Wagner is also a host for Nevada Public Radio's NV89 and he plays music at Las Vegas 51s games. 

But he has to work fast -- there can't be dead air. 

"You really want to keep the whole crowd energized and everyone having a good time -- that's really the goal that we go for as a production crew," he said.

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


Mikayla Whitmore, photographer; Jake Wagner, Golden Knights music director

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