Excitement builds as Nashville predators advance in the Stanley Cup Playoffs

Editor’s note: During the 2017 Chips Quinn orientation and multimedia training in Nashville, Tenn., scholars were required to complete a mobile media reporting module, which included producing videos and reporting and writing stories. Their work is displayed here.

by Fatima Bhojani

NASHVILLE, Tenn.—A few hours before the historic showdown between the Nashville Predators and the Anaheim Ducks in the Western Conference Final of the National Hockey League’s 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Matthew Dunavant stood at the home team’s portable merchandise store outside the Bridgestone Arena, as hockey fans from all over the country browsed the goods.

“It’s been cool to have people from Nashville, but also all over the world,” said Dunavant, 25. “We’ve had people from Australia and Europe. Hats and shirts are going pretty quick, and the player jerseys. P.K. Subban, people ask about that one specifically,” he said, referring to the defenseman who was dealt to the Predators from the Montreal Canadiens.

Joan Sheehan of Quebec City browsed for merchandise at the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tenn., before attending game three of the NHL’s 2017 Western Conference Final between the Nashville Predators and Anaheim Ducks in May. (Photo by Jackeline Luna)

One P.K. Subban fan is Joan Sheehan of Quebec City, who celebrated her 67th birthday in Nashville the day before the game. She was at the store with her husband Leonard, who is also a Subban devotee. They used to be Canadiens fans but shifted loyalties when Subban joined the Predators.

“And when he moves, we’ll follow him,” said Sheehan, who was looking to pick up some pucks and T-shirts. “For the grandchildren, too, because everybody loves P.K. We definitely will get a P.K. jersey,” she said.

Business has been good for the Nashville Predator merchandise stores.

“They’re trying to buy more and more to keep up with how much we’re selling,” Dunavant said. “The pro shop and the team store are open on Sundays now, and for longer hours. And I think if we move on (into the finals), they’ll be open more and even later.”

As the sun beat down at the intersection of Broadway and 5th Avenue, a block brimming with splashes of yellow, upbeat music, bars and restaurants, fans prepared for an evening that would not disappoint: later that night the Predators would win game three of the Western Conference Final.

“This year is definitely our best year yet,” Dunavant said. “For the first time ever, the Predators are in the Western Conference Final. If we win this one, we’re going all the way to the finals.”

The excitement and tension in the air were palpable.

“It’s loud, but nowhere as loud as it will be tonight,” Dunavant said. “It’s going to be packed.”

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