Meet The Knightmares: Vegas Golden Knights Littlest Un-Official Fan Club
It’s difficult to put into words how many lives changed after 1October. Could Las Vegas bounce back after the largest mass shooting in America? One out of three locals knew of someone that either attended the concert, who was a first responder called to the concert, or died at the concert like my friend, Neysa Tonks. Psychological trauma affected thousands of local families. “My uncle is an officer and [he] had to drive down [to the crime scene] and help,” recalls eleven-year-old Teagan. Entertainment venues and tourism took a huge a hit, and it appeared that the neon strip remained destined to exist under a cold, dark cloud.
But after the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights went all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2018, something miraculous happened. Once again, Vegas is strong, and for three, adorable little girls that are made with sugar, spice, and everything nice, with an extra shot of chemical X, their joy for the Knights and their favorite players setoff a passion for goodwill. Meet Teagan, and ten-year-olds-Ava, and Zoe, the Knight’s most devoted, unofficial fan club, the Little Knightmares.
It’s uncanny, but as I sat next to Ava’s Mom sipping crisp, Sauvignon blanc and tasting bacon-wrapped scallops, in my mind’s eye, from their hair colors down to their idiosyncratic personalities, I wanted to cast them as The Power Puff Girls. Auburn-haired Zoe as Blossom, toe-head Ava as Bubbles, and feisty brunette Teagan as Buttercup. With the success of their Instagram page, @vgkdoubletrouble,their love for the Knights, and their unique style, the girls believe they have a marketable brand to share with the Golden Knights and the world.
For Ava and Teagan, they became overnight groupies last season, dubbing themselves as Double Trouble for their unofficial club. “Because there’s two of us, and we’re lotta trouble first of all,” said Teagan. Unlike her two boy crazy club mates, timorous and tiny Ava, wearing her pale-pink colored Vans sweatshirt, doesn’t have a favorite player but her mom has a crush on Alex Tuch. “I like all of them,” she says, fidgeting in her chair with an earmarked smile. Yet if you take a peek inside her bedroom, aside from the game posters and her Golden Knights’ overnight bag, it is a Marc Andre Fleury doll that resides on top of her mantle along with her plush, snow-white dog, Andre Bark Stuffy. “The games are fun. It’s so awesome.”
With rib-tickling wit, spry Teagan claims she was never interested in the Knights until she watched the Stanley Cup game. But from the moment she laid her coffee-brown eyes on her fanciful crush, she knew that Justin Bieber had been replaced inside her heart. “I texted Cindy [Ava’s Mom] and said, “Who is #71, and she goes, “William Karlsson,” and I go, “Oooh. And ever since he’s been, my husband.” Teagan, at the time of the interview, had yet to meet her favorite player. “But I did get a puck from him,” she says with her eyes twinkling. “[After losing the Stanley Cup] I had a box of Swedish fish for Karlsson, and I threw it onto the stage,” she said with a chuckle. Her gushing didn’t stop. “I told my mom I wanted to put his poster up above my ceiling so I fall asleep looking at his face.”
There seems to be a bit of a jovial rivalry for Teagan’s heart at the rink, too. “Ryan Reaves gets mad at me because I love Karlsson, and he wants to be number one. He goes, ‘what do I have to do to be number one?’ I said, when I’m older I’ll have two dogs named Karlsson and Reaves. Then he fist bumped me.” Ironically, Reaves is the reason that the Little Knightmares were on featured on the Knight’s Twitter feed. Their local fame from the game’s webcam drew attention to their Instagram page. “Nate Schmidt #88 liked Zoe’s picture on our Instagram page,” said Ava. “We were on TV too, during the pre-game bawling our eyes out,” said Zoe.
Zoe, the newest little Knightmare, joined the club for the 2018-2019 season, for several reasons. “They make kids happy, it’s a good sport, and all the hockey players are hot,” she says while swinging her feet back and forth, and sitting on her hands. Unable to control her capriciousness, she blurts out her favorite player’s name through suppressed giggling. “Johnathan Marchessault.” Zoe’s first opportunity to meet “Marchy,” as he is referred to by his fans, resulted in disaster. “I hopped through a gate and my shoelace got stuck on the bolt, and there was my man passing me by,” she whined. “I got stuck and stood there crying for two hours.”
Their favorite moments during the games can vary from “Whenever I get a puck,” says Zoe, or “make a goal,” says Ava. With mooneyes galore, as she embraces her pillow, Teagan melodramatically sighs. “Whenever Karlsson looks at me, I get star struck or whenever he makes goals for me, I tell my Mom he’s thinking about me as he’s getting the goal, so like, I give him luck.” The girls demonstrated their own special chant that is regularly featured on the Knights webcam and twitter account. “Get a goal…Get a goal,” they chant in unison. “Every time we go we cheer and scream, and [the players] cry,” said Ava.
In an effort to raise public awareness for the community, dressed in their Golden Knights gear, the girls attend practice games, public charity events, and nursing homes. “We visited [Ava’s] grandmother’s friend, Mary Lou, who recently passed away, but we got to see her before she died and had breakfast with her,” said Zoe. In the future, the girls plan to visit local children’s hospitals to hand out the Golden Knights memorabilia. “If we could, we’d like to give out shirts, and pucks, posters and stuff,” said Ava. Teagan right on cue as if a light bulb appeared above her head, delivered the well-timed punch line. “Tell ‘em to get my man’s attention.”
Although the Knights lost the cup last season, thanks to the Maloof family, since the Golden Knights arrival in Vegas 80% of T-Mobile Arena is reserved for home games. In spite of a price increase, tickets for the 2018-2019 season still sold out. Fan enthusiasm is at an all-time high for a team that healed the city’s wounds to have another shot at taking the Stanley Cup. The Vegas Born hockey franchise is now part of the community, and the girls couldn’t be happier. Whenever the Knights play at home, the Knightmares don their game jerseys, fleecy black, gold beanies, and press their handmade signs against the glass, and shout, “Get A Goal Get a Goal. And when we actually said that they actually got a goal,” said a beaming Zoe.
Ava’s sign, “Vegas Strong,” is in remembrance of the 58 lives lost, and a testimony to the city’s resilience. For Teagan, it’s all about her Swedish fish. “When Karlsson doesn’t look at me it is a tragedy,” said Teagan. Still, in an attempt to get his attention, she’s creating new signs for him for every game. “He knows me from my signs but doesn’t know my name yet.” Curious over her whimsical attitude, I couldn’t help myself. What name would that be? “Teagan Karlsson,” she said, raising her personalized Karlsson pillow to her face. “See, we are a perfect couple.”
Parents that appear interested in having their children join the Little Knightmares only need to follow a few simple rules. “Make Cindy [Ava’s mom] mad,” laughs Teagan. All kidding aside, the main requirement for the gender-neutral club is they be little and big Golden Knights fans, preferably around the girls’ current age. “They must attend the games, and partake in community service events,” says Ava’s mom. “When the girls get older, they may even want to be cheerleaders or part of the knight crew.”
A fascination for the wintery sport continues to grow for girls of all ages in the southern desert, creating several bonding opportunities with fathers and their daughters. Teagan eventually wants to play while Ava and Zoe, like most boy crazy teens, prefer to stare at the players. “Nah hockey is a rough sport,” says Ava. But she admits that watching the Knights play on the rink lit a fire inside her belly for ice-skating, and plans to start lessons after the season. “It’s fun attending the games,” continues Ava’s mom. “Ava has season tickets, so she goes to the practices and random games a lot with her Dad and her Grandma.” Teagan recently attended her first Knights game with her father. “It was really fun because whenever we made a goal, he’d get up and like whistle and scream like a lady, and I just kept looking and him and saying, “oh, my gosh.”
In Teagan’s mind, the prospect of meeting Karlsson is pre-ordained. Just the thought of coming face to face with 189-pound beefy Swede tinges her cheeks cherry pink while squeezing her hand-made pillow with Karlsson’s face splashed all over it. “You are my husband, I love you so much, I’m teaching myself Swedish for you, and we’re gonna get married, soon, k?” Luckily for Teagan and all Golden Knights fans, last summer Karlsson avoided arbitration and re-signed for a single year at 5.25 million. “One of my friends said there’s a rumor that my man is gonna do a signing, so I’ve been saving up my money but its slowly vanishing away…”
But fear not, all ice princesses. For this fairy tale does indeed have a happy ending. As fate would have it, Teagan finally met Karlsson. Through numerous hugs, tears of joy slid down her cherry cheeks as her man embraced her for the camera. But that’s not all.
The Knightmares also finally met Zoe’s man Marchy at a recent charity event. It’s not unusual for the girls’ to hunt down their favorite players’ whereabouts. Where there is a will, there’s a way. Their knowledge of the game and resources are quite impressive. “They know all the players’ names and numbers, the wives, their kids, their girlfriend’s names, it’s…a little creepy, but they just really love the game,” affirms Ava’s mom.
Granted, it may seem on the surface to some that the girls are a bit over the top in their genuine shipping, but in their defense, what’s the harm done? A trio of hopelessly devoted boy-crazy girls that shifted their typical boy band admiration toward the Knights fandom and then meeting their heroes is truly a big dream come true for the Knightmares. Sometimes heroes come in little packages too.