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Pets and Pucks: A look at the Tampa Bay Lightning pet calendar

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Fourteen Lightning players are featured with their furry friends

Stralman and his bunnies

Hockey players getting photographed with their pets isn’t a new development. Back in August when NHL.com reporter Bryan Burns tweeted out a photo of Andrei Vasilevskiy and his cat it wasn’t a big deal other than being an adorable photo.

Burns mentioned that the photo shoot was part of an upcoming pet calendar featuring Lightning players. A few months later, that calendar is now on sale. Sporting the title “Barks and Bolts” it has fourteen months running from November 2017 until December 2018 and features fourteen players with their respective pets. Proceeds will benefit the Humane Society of Tampa Bay and was organized by the Bolts Better Halves.

Coinciding with the release of the calendar several players took to social media with what appears to be a few outtake from their various photo shoots.

First up Tyler Johnson and his dog Riesling (usually called Reese when spotted on social media).

The Lightning’s second line center (and highest scoring American in franchise history [I did not know this! - Acha]) is cruising down the Hillsborough River just past the iconic Sykes Enterprises building. Reese, a golden doodle, has grown quite a bit since making her first appearance on Johnson’s Instagram feed.

If Tyler Johnson is going to be featured, you can bet Ondrej Palat and Snowy will be as well.

Not only have they been teammates for years, they’ve also been dog owners together from the beginning as well. Palat and Snowy, another golden doodle, are photographed along the Riverwalk.

It’s unclear if former Triplet Nikita Kucherov is a dog owner, but that didn’t keep him out of the calendar.

He’s shown here with Kayla, a Humane Society dog, on one of the historic Teco Line streetcars that runs from Ybor City to Channelside. Luckily, Kayla didn’t bite Kucherov while snatching that treat out of his hand.

Kucherov’s new linemate, Steven Stamkos, is one of the more popular dog-owning athletes in the Tampa area. As captain, it isn’t a surprise he’s featured. In fact, he’s on the cover of the calendar with his dog Trigger.

Trigger is a Swiss Mountain dog whose name, according to an interview with Sports Illustrated, was not inspired by Stamkos’ love of Roy Rogers (look it up kids), but by Stamkos’ role as a shooter on the Lightning’s power play.

Stamkos’ fellow calendar cover star, Victor Hedman, has a bulldog named Harry.

Harry Hedman is a fantastic name for a dog or for a detective out of a Raymond Chandler story. Hedman has referred to his 30-pound French Bulldog as “stubborn” while Stamkos calls him a “bully”. Victor seems immeasurably happier than Harry to have his picture taken.

Of all of the Lightning players, J.T. Brown may be the most active on social media Before the birth of his daughter, Lily, a large portion of his posts featured his dogs Boo and Sully.

It’s no surprise that Brown was photographed in a gaming establishment (maybe Lowry Parcade & Tavarn) given his love for video games. It’s a nice touch that he’s pictured in front of some old-school pinball games. [Writer’s note - I will go to my grave convinced that Terminator 2 is the greatest pinball game ever created.]

Andrej Sustr follows Stamkos’ fashion sense with his slim fit jorts while posing with a dog named Candice from the Humane Society

According to Sustr’s Twitter timeline these photos were taken in May, which gave him something to do since the Lightning weren’t playing hockey. Like Johnson and Palat this photo was taken along the Riverwalk by Ulele Restaurant and Brewery.

Rounding out the social media previews is Ryan Callahan with his dog Levi.

Pretty sure Callahan has used the same exact pose when arguing with a referee about a penalty. Most likely with the same result.

The calendars are on sale at both Tampa Bay Sports locations as well as online at www.tampabaysports.com. It’s the only place you’ll find what has to be a fantastic photo of Anton Stralman and his rabbits.