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The 'Bolts Effect': Youth hockey interest is up in the Bay area

Owner of Max Level Hockey estimates around 70% of youth players she speaks with were inspired to start playing after watching the Tampa Bay Lightning.

TAMPA, Fla. — The Tampa Bay Lightning are fighting to defend its title as Stanley Cup Champs, and kids in the Bay area are taking note.

You could call it the "Bolts Effect," with the Tampa Bay Lightning inspiring young kids to take to the ice and try their hand at ice hockey. 

Hockey coach and owner of Max Level Hockey Kristen Folche, says she hears it all the time.

"I ask them, 'Hey, how did you start playing hockey? What got you interested in it?' and they say, 'Oh I went to a Lightning game and I thought that was really cool and I told my mom that I wanted to play hockey,'" Folche explained.

Young players at her clinic on Monday told 10 Tampa Bay they have been inspired by some of the best in the game.

Eight-year-old Freddy Richards says he looks up to "Steven Stamkos, Kucherov, and all their other players."

Alexa Zehall says her favorite is "Brayden Point for sure. Just the way he skates in the way he plays, he's very smart."

Folche says a majority of local players she speaks with say they were inspired to learn to play after watching the Bolts in action. 

"I would say at least 70% of the kids who play hockey now, they say it's because they've gone to Lightning games," Folche said.

In the greater Tampa Bay area, she says interest in youth hockey is on the rise among boys and girls. 

"Every year there are more and more kids coming out, there more and more kids trying out for travel, there are rinks popping up everywhere," Folche said.

As the Lightning continues its quest for the cup, Freddy Richards offers his idols some advice:

"Be careful with the puck and don't let them get it in their zone... score a lot of goals!" Freddy says. 

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