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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 MTL 63 41 17 5 171 139 87
2 NYR 62 39 17 6 196 153 84
3 NYI 64 41 21 2 205 179 84
4 TBL 64 38 20 6 210 171 82
5 DET 61 35 15 11 180 159 81
6 PIT 62 36 17 9 181 155 81
7 WSH 64 34 20 10 188 159 78
8 BOS 62 31 22 9 165 161 71
9 FLA 63 28 22 13 154 178 69
10 PHI 63 27 25 11 168 183 65
11 OTT 60 27 23 10 171 163 64
12 NJD 63 26 27 10 141 164 62
13 CBJ 62 26 32 4 160 196 56
14 CAR 62 24 31 7 144 167 55
15 TOR 63 25 33 5 170 193 55
16 BUF 63 19 39 5 123 212 43

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
N. Bjugstad 63 22 16 -8 38
J. Huberdeau 60 9 27 4 36
J. Jokinen 62 6 28 0 34
A. Ekblad 63 10 23 8 33
B. Boyes 61 11 21 9 32
J. Jagr 59 12 19 -9 31
J. Hayes 54 17 10 -5 27
B. Campbell 63 3 20 3 23
A. Barkov 52 10 12 -4 22
T. Fleischmann 52 7 14 12 21
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
R. Luongo 23 16 11 .920 2.40
A. Montoya 5 6 2 .891 2.98
 
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