(Reuters) – Midnight finally struck on the Vegas Golden Knights’ Cinderella run on Thursday as the National Hockey League expansion team proved no match for the Washington Capitals in the Stanley Cup Final.
Vegas were a 500-1 long shot to win the Stanley Cup at the start of the season but surprised the ice hockey world by going on an astonishing run that ended when they lost the best-of-seven championship series 4-1.
“Pretty disappointed and dejected obviously,” said Vegas head coach Gerard Gallant. “We worked hard tonight, we competed hard, just couldn’t beat that team. They were a good hockey team, they deserve the Stanley Cup.”
Players on the Golden Knights called themselves the ‘Golden Misfits’ since the roster was comprised of mostly depth players deemed expendable by their former teams through an expansion draft that was tweaked to make the team competitive.
Still, not even the team’s most optimistic fan would have dared to dream of a run to the NHL’s championship series. Even team owner Bill Foley said his goal was to make the playoffs in three years and win the Stanley Cup in six.
But the Golden Knights, with the enthusiasm of a motley crew of veterans and young players and powered by an offence that relied heavily on speed and relentless puck pressure, had their own ideas.
They stormed to the Pacific Division title before posting a remarkable 12-3 record over the first three rounds of the playoffs to book their spot in the championship series.
But the team that quickly grew accustomed to defying logic over the course of their magical first season had no answer when it came time to face the Capitals.
Once the sting of their loss to Washington subsides, the Golden Knights will certainly hold their collective heads high when they look back on what was a remarkable season that has all the makings of a Hollywood movie.
“Nobody expected us to be here,” said Gallant “It’ll feel a lot better in a few days, but tonight’s a tough loss.
“We battled hard. We played a great hockey team, we got to the Stanley Cup Final and showed everybody what we’re made of.”
Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto; Editing by Peter Rutherford