TAMPA — Becky McKeen is sticking to a tradition that’s been proven for a month and a half. Even a run to the airport didn’t change things when the Lightning needed her.
Tampa Bay led its second-round playoff series against the Florida Panthers 1-0, but Game 2 was tied at 1 in the third period.
McKeen was on her way to pick up her daughter, Grace, from Tampa International Airport. On her way home, she asked her husband, Barry, for a quick stop at the Amalie Arena. It was time to work on his particular brand of magic.
When McKeen stands outside a bathroom, the Lightning scores. So, with just two minutes remaining, McKeen headed to the Porta Potty stalls at the back of Thunder Alley.
With 3.8 seconds left, Ross Colton found the back of the net to give the Lightning a 2-1 win.
“I filmed it, because I wanted everyone to know it was legit,” said McKeen, 49, of Tampa.
On a Lightning fan Facebook page, McKeen is known as “Bathroom Becky”. Fans will visit her outside the women’s restroom near section 106 in Amalie to pose for a selfie and thank her for her service.
She received personalized gifts such as “Bathroom Becky” t-shirts (which she planned to wear under her Lightning jersey in the Stanley Cup Finals), a keychain, and a blue Yeti mug with the sticker on it. “#BathroomBecky” under the Lightning logo. Some fans offered him an adult drink or two during games.
Since the lore restart, McKeen is undefeated (7-0) in Lightning home games.
“It just became this hilarious thing that went crazy,” she said.
The tradition started about four or five years ago when McKeen discovered that the Lightning often scored when she was in the bathroom. She hadn’t intentionally used the trick in a while, but that changed when the Lightning led the Maple Leafs 2-1 in the first-round series.
Standing under the “Women” sign outside the restrooms near Section 106, she watches the games on a set of elevated televisions in the main hallway. She’ll hear the goal horn and the crowd’s celebrations from the main bowl before the game appears on the delayed recording.
On Mother’s Day, Steven Stamkos scored the opening goal of Game 4 less than a minute after McKeen left his seat in the bottom bowl. The team scored two more before the end of the first period. McKeen stayed until the team had a 5-0 lead (they then won 7-3) before returning to his seat for a parade of high-fives from people in his section.
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When the Lightning played Game 7, McKeen, an administrator from Grace Christian School, was chaperoning the school ball at Le Meridien Tampa. Encouraged by her students, she went to look for the women’s room at the hotel. A minute later, Nick Paul scored the winner. His students started dancing.
“I believe in God and I’m not, like, super weird, but like they say in Office, I’m a little “stitious,” McKeen said. “I mean, you have to admit it’s just a little weird.”
For Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Rangers, McKeen and his family were unable to get tickets to the watch party at Amalie Arena, so they watched the game in the lobby of the JW Marriott hotel behind Thunder Alley. With the score tied at 1 at the end of the second period, McKeen tried Amalie again.
She approached a member of the arena staff outside, saying, “I know this is going to sound crazy, but there’s only one period left and I was wondering if I could come over. sit in the bathroom? The attendant didn’t recognize McKeen or her story, so she went to get her supervisor.
“Wait, I think I heard about you,” McKeen recalled, the supervisor telling her before going to get her a paper ticket. “Alright, go stand in the bathroom.”
McKeen came on just in time for Ondrej Palat to score the winner, with Brandon Hagel adding an empty-netter 51 seconds later for the 3-1 win.
McKeen wasn’t taking any chances in Game 6, so she stayed out of the bathroom the entire Lightning 2-1 win. At one point, guest services offered him a chair. When McKeen – who coached basketball for 30 years and never sat on the bench – politely declined, they brought him cupcakes instead.
Now with the Lightning in the Stanley Cup Final against the Avalanche, McKeen plans to stay out of the bathroom for the entirety of home games. Since the start of the series in Denver, she wasn’t in Amalie for Tampa Bay’s 4-3 loss Wednesday in Game 1.
“If it makes you smile and makes you laugh, then it’s worth it,” McKeen said, “because life is too short to be serious all the time.”
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