Posted by Chris on February 20, 2012 at 05:02 PM CST
Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace 3D Night with the Tampa Bay Lightning at the Tampa Bay Times Forum – Thursday, February 16th, 2012

The Tampa Bay Lightning NHL Hockey team partnered with the Star Wars Grand Florida Alliance and the 501st Legion Florida Garrison to bring fans an epic evening filled with Star Wars goodness to help promote and celebrate the theatrical release of Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace 3D.

The Lightning offered fans a special VIP package which included a ticket to the game, access to an all-you-can-eat and all-you-can-drink buffet, an exclusive licensed The Phantom Menace/Lightning hockey puck and photo opportunities with Star Wars characters. The SWGFA had a booth set up outside to greet fans as they stood in line to pick up their tickets, wristbands and ultra cool hockey pucks before the game. The 501st Legion mingled among the crowd getting everyone pumped up before they went inside as Darth Vader, Darth Maul, a Sandtrooper, a Stormtrooper, a TIE Fighter Pilot, Padme Amidala, Obi-Wan “Ben” Kenobi, R2-D2, two Imperial Officers, an ARC Trooper and a Royal Guard were present.










Once inside, members from the 501st Legion took a pre-game Fan Zam ride around the ice. The Imperial March was played during the starting line-up and the Emperor himself showed the true power of the Darkside with some Sith Lightning! Okay, it's just a tesla coil, but the whole purple lightning thing totally worked for this event.




Want to go out on the ice at a hockey game? You have to sign a waiver...and don't think for one second that Darth Vader or his troops were immune to this rule!



At the end of the 1st period, the Lightning were up 2-1 over the Sharks. During the break, Darth Maul put on his ice skates and grabbed a hockey stick while other characters made their way out onto the ice for a little “Star Wars Shootout” with random VIP ticket holders chosen to participate. There was also a game board with an awesome Death Star graphic. The challenge was to get a puck into the small exhaust port…er…uh…the small hole at the bottom of the board and into the net. The winner received a copy of the Star Wars Saga on Blu-ray courtesy of Lucasfilm Ltd!





Official Star Wars artist Michael Locoduck Duron was also on hand and kept busy with long lines of fans wanting to get a free caricature done. He also offered up an original piece of artwork for charity with all of the proceeds going to the Make a Wish Foundation on behalf of the 501st Legion Tampa Bay Squad.



During the second period break, the Sharks were up 4-3 over the Lightning and the 501st members were up on the 3rd level for more photo opportunities as VIP ticket holders took advantage of the huge buffet. Everyone was encouraged to dress in costume and wear their favorite Star Wars shirt and many did.




At the end of the 3rd period, the game was tied 5-5 which resulted in overtime play. The Force was truly with the Lightning that night as they eventually scored an incredible goal to win the game 6-5 over the Sharks. If you weren't able to make it out for this event, fear not. Discussions have already begun for Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones 3D Night!
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