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Great Finish To Weekend Of The Rat Reunion

Saturday, 07.28.2007 / 6:34 PM ET / 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.”

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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 x - MTL 77 47 22 8 203 174 102
2 x - NYR 75 47 21 7 228 177 101
3 x - TBL 77 47 23 7 249 201 101
4 PIT 76 42 23 11 210 190 95
5 NYI 77 45 27 5 235 215 95
6 DET 75 40 23 12 220 206 92
7 WSH 76 41 25 10 223 188 92
8 BOS 76 38 25 13 201 196 89
9 OTT 75 37 26 12 218 203 86
10 FLA 76 35 26 15 190 207 85
11 PHI 76 30 29 17 198 219 77
12 CBJ 75 36 35 4 207 232 76
13 NJD 76 31 33 12 168 194 74
14 CAR 75 28 36 11 174 204 67
15 TOR 76 28 42 6 198 244 62
16 BUF 76 21 47 8 148 255 50

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Huberdeau 73 13 36 9 49
N. Bjugstad 72 24 19 -7 43
J. Jagr 71 15 26 -2 41
J. Jokinen 75 8 33 -2 41
B. Boyes 73 12 23 10 35
A. Ekblad 75 11 24 11 35
J. Hayes 66 18 13 -5 31
A. Barkov 65 14 17 -1 31
B. Campbell 76 3 22 2 25
B. Pirri 43 20 2 5 22
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
R. Luongo 26 17 12 .921 2.33
A. Montoya 5 7 2 .888 3.08
 
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