LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Since their inaugural season, the Vegas Golden Knights romanced their way into valley residents’ hearts. It was a time when the city needed unity, teamwork and someone to cheer for together.
The VGK fan base fell in love with players like Marc-Andre Fleury, Jonathan Marchessault, Alex Tuch and others. They showed their team spirit by wearing gold and black, they became endeared with new team mascots and team personalities that gained local fame along with the team like Bark Andre Fleury, Goldie the Golden Knights cheerleader and Golden Pipes.
There’s one fan in particular that is a special part of the Golden Knights’ support system– his name is Matt Helfst and to fans, spectators and the team he is known as ‘Flag Guy.’
Matt is the one waving the huge gold and black flag at all of the Vegas Golden Knights practices and home game tailgates in Toshiba Plaza.
The 33-year-old hardcore Knights fan moved from the Orlando area to Las Vegas in 2017, the same year the Knights began their reign in the valley.
“We needed something positive to lift our city and it was just perfect timing that the hockey team could bring such love and unity and positivity to our city in a time that we really needed it,” Matt said.
He decided to bring the flag-waving culture to Vegas, after picking up the habit at soccer games in Orlando, Florida.
Matt began with a small PVC pipe, but after seeing someone wave a 17 foot at EDC, he had the idea to extend his flag, making it less hazardous to those around him.
“Anyone who personally knows me and sees me out at the games knows that I mean well and knows that I don’t try to hit anyone,” Matt told 8 News Now. “I just try to be there to bring positivity to the team and excitement to the fan experience.”
He is not allowed to bring his flag inside T-Mobile due to their rules, so he makes a point to watch every home game at watch parties and in Toshiba Plaza with other fans.
“There’s always a big group of us out there watching the game, so it’s definitely exciting whether you’re inside the fortress or outside in the plaza, the energy is always out there,” Matt said.
So what does he do when he’s not waving the flag at VGK events? Matt works online as a website administrator for a chess website, and is also a professional chess player. One of the reasons he made the move to Las Vegas was his interest in sports betting. This profession allows for a flexible schedule, which allows Matt to work during the hours he’s not supporting the Knights at every event.
You may ask how he keeps up the endurance and persistence. Matt’s simple answer was, “a lot of bed rest and soaking the hands in lotion and stuff.”
His gloves help, too.
The Golden Knights have thousands of fans, but Matt says he doesn’t see himself as more than just that: a fan.
“I don’t expect any special privileges or any special power, I am just one of many fans. I just happen to have a big flag. All I ask from the team is that they let me wave my flag and let me be here to support them,” Matt said.
Whether it’s a dry, hot day at the beginning of the hockey season or a bitterly cold night with frigid temperatures (like the Feb. 2019 short snowstorm), you can count on Matt being at every VGK event. He endures it all to support the team that is so inspiring to many Las Vegans, like himself.
To all Golden Knights fans, Matt has one special request: call him ‘Flag Guy,’ he likes it and prefers it over ‘Matt.’