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Great Finish To Weekend Of The Rat Reunion

Saturday, 07.28.2007 / 6:34 PM / News
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Great Finish To Weekend Of The Rat Reunion
By Dave Joseph for floridapanthers.com

And the rats came down…again.

Eleven seasons after taking South Florida on a memorable and wild ride to the Stanley Cup finals, the ’96 Panthers came together Saturday at BankAtlantic Center for a reunion game against former Panther alumni.

Before a crowd of 11,817 – a crowd that lined up several hours before the game to get autographs from players and coaches – the ’96 Panthers defeated the Florida Alumni 9-5.

Every goal by the ’96 team was greeted with a shower of toy rats.  And the constant squeeking of those rats filled the arena the entire afternoon.

“Awesome,” said defenseman Geoff Smith, a member of the ’96 team. “What a turnout. There were always good fans down here. We were signing autographs and people were lined up, excited and talking about how they had waited for this moment for a long time.”

Doug MacLean, coach of the ’96 team, said of the turnout; “Guys were sitting on the bench and looking up in the stands and they couldn’t believe the turnout. For a Saturday afternoon at 3 p.m? Incredible.”

Scott Mellanby, who started the ‘Year of the Rat’ when he killed a rodent in the Panther dressing room, scored two goals Saturday and said; “I think this shows what a great relationship we had with the fans.”

Asked how he felt after playing the 60 minute game, Mike Hough, an original Panther and member of the ’96 team, said; “I’m tired, but I got my first goal in nine years.”

Between the first and second periods of the game, the Panthers’ unveiled their new uniforms. The jerseys were modeled by current Panthers Nathan Horton and Stephen Weiss.

For fans and players alike, the weekend was a chance to catch up and relive the team’s incredible success.

Tom Fitzgerald is the Penguins’ director of hockey operations. Dave Lowry is an assistant coach in the Western Hockey League, Jody Hull an assistant in the Ontario Hockey League, and Johan Garpenlov is an executive in the Swedish Elite League.

The Panther alumni team included Peter Worrell, now a high school coach, and the sons of goalie John Vanbiesbrouck and Brian Skrudland.

The reason for the success of the ’96 team? “It was heart,” MacLean said. “I haven’t seen anything like it in my 22 years of hockey.”

Brian Skrudland, the Panthers’ captain from 1993-97, said the reunion game was “not only great for hockey, but great for South Florida. I think it helps to get people on board with the Florida Panthers.”

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 TBL 48 30 14 4 156 127 64
2 NYI 46 31 14 1 151 129 63
3 DET 47 27 11 9 139 119 63
4 MTL 45 29 13 3 123 106 61
5 PIT 46 26 12 8 138 117 60
6 NYR 44 27 13 4 134 106 58
7 WSH 46 24 13 9 137 120 57
8 BOS 48 25 16 7 126 121 57
9 FLA 44 20 14 10 107 122 50
10 OTT 46 19 18 9 126 128 47
11 TOR 48 22 23 3 142 150 47
12 PHI 48 19 22 7 130 146 45
13 CBJ 45 20 22 3 113 142 43
14 NJD 47 17 22 8 107 134 42
15 CAR 46 16 25 5 98 120 37
16 BUF 47 14 30 3 89 167 31

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
N. Bjugstad 44 15 12 1 27
J. Huberdeau 41 8 17 1 25
A. Ekblad 44 6 19 7 25
J. Jokinen 43 4 20 0 24
J. Hayes 36 13 7 1 20
B. Boyes 42 9 11 1 20
S. Bergenheim 33 7 9 4 16
T. Fleischmann 38 5 8 9 13
V. Trocheck 28 4 9 6 13
D. Kulikov 39 1 12 -2 13
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
R. Luongo 17 10 8 .923 2.32
A. Montoya 3 4 2 .887 3.09
 
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