Paisley Pirates may ply their trade in the Scottish National League, but they recently had the opportunity to introduce themselves to a much wider audience.
Club officials and players were recently invited guests of the NHL’s Tampa Bay Lightning for their Eastern Conference Final clash against Pittsburgh Penguins.
The group were given a tour of the arena and had the opportunity to ride on the Zamboni in front of over 20,000 fans.
Pirates’ boss Ian Turley was full of praise at the hospitality shown by the Lightning organisation.
“They put up images of our own players on their giant TV screens, and told the crowd all about the Pirates, so they really went out of their way to give us a good time,” said Turley.
“It was certainly a wonderful bit of promotion for the club and the area, appearing in front of an audience like that. It’s something which we’ll certainly never forget.
“A lot of the guys can now say, quite legitimately, that they’ve appeared at the Stanley Cup – a claim which not every player in Scotland can make.
“There’s also now thousands of folk who follow the NHL who know something about the Pirates.
“We took over a team jersey as a small gesture, and it was worn by the Vice President for Guest Experience, Mary Milne, during our visit.
“She told us that it would go up on their wall, so a bit of the Pirates will forever be seen at the home of the Lightning – not a bad bit of recognition for the club.
“We’re always trying to promote the town of Paisley and the wider locality of Renfrewshire wherever we go, and I think we can certainly say ‘mission accomplished’ this time around.
“The people at Tampa Bay said they have a group name for folk who support the club from afar – ‘Distant Thunder’ – and the Pirates are now members of a very elite group of people.
“We might not quite play to the standard of the NHL, but in our own neck of the woods we’ll certainly be looking to brew up a storm in the new season, courtesy of this boost from our new friends 6,000 miles away.”