For the Love of Hockey: The Making of a Vegas Hockey Superfan
By Bethany Drysdale
Las Vegas – Fifteen months ago, Kat Craner had never watched hockey. Today, she is one of the most loyal and passionate fans in the Vegas Hockey community. Like many lifelong Vegas residents, hockey was not something Kat grew up watching or playing, but with the Golden Knights came, it piqued her interest. The free and open to the public practices drew her in, and admittedly, a chance to see some good looking guys. That was all it took for Kat to love the sport that so many of us have always enjoyed.
Kat has met almost every locally born hockey player now, and follows the Macon Mayhem, Chicago Wolves, Royal Flushes, Jesters, UNLV Rebels, Minnesota Wild and of course our Golden Knights. I can easily find her in the same place most days, watching a game on the City National Ice, with the Golden Knights playing on the TV at Mackenzie River, and her listening to a game on her phone through ear buds. She saves us seats if we are running late to the Rebels games, and helps me spot goal scorers. She knows all the players names and numbers, easily spotting who was in on the action. My kids run through door at City National most days, looking for her and her lollipops that she usually has for them. They think she lives at City National.
One thing that I really appreciate about Kat is her photo albums. She has several of them, with photos of her and Vegas hockey players. Many of them have signed their photos too. Not only does she care about the players, but she has an album of hockey friends. From Zamboni drivers, to front desk staff, to security guards, Kat has a photo of everyone, including a signed photo of Lucas and Blake. No matter how famous or popular they are, everyone is equally important to Kat. I have personally been grateful to her for friendship.
She has had many unique opportunities to meet the players at the Knights Gala, signing events and random encounters throughout the Valley. Each time, the players recognize her and say hello. Recently, we had the chance to see four Golden Knights at the BX on Nellis AFB. As the players were leaving, they saw Kat and said hello to her by name. Only missing 2 practices in the past 14 months, it makes sense that they know the lady who makes them encouraging signs along the glass.
When asked what she enjoys most, Kat says, “she loves the passion hockey players bring to the game. They come out on the ice and always look like they are having fun. It makes me love the game, because of the players.” Although she is not looking forward to the end of the season, she gets excited about the various development camps that occur during the summer. That’s when she can see Derek (Sutliffe) and (Gage) Quinney come home to prepare for the next season. As well as watching the A League Summer teams hitting the ice, on the hottest days of summer.
As the Las Vegas Jesters continue into the post season, their next game is at SoBe Ice April 5th and 6th at 10:15pm… and Kat will be there, cheering on Kody Holmes and Richie Crossley.
Bethany Drysdale was voted as the Best Writer here on Vegas Hockey