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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.”

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - WSH 82 56 18 8 252 193 120
2 x - PIT 82 48 26 8 245 203 104
3 y - FLA 82 47 26 9 239 203 103
4 x - NYR 82 46 27 9 236 217 101
5 x - NYI 82 45 27 10 232 216 100
6 x - TBL 82 46 31 5 227 201 97
7 x - PHI 82 41 27 14 214 218 96
8 x - DET 82 41 30 11 211 224 93
9 BOS 82 42 31 9 240 230 93
10 CAR 82 35 31 16 198 226 86
11 OTT 82 38 35 9 236 247 85
12 NJD 82 38 36 8 184 208 84
13 MTL 82 38 38 6 221 236 82
14 BUF 82 35 36 11 201 222 81
15 CBJ 82 34 40 8 219 252 76
16 TOR 82 29 42 11 198 246 69

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Jagr 79 27 39 23 66
J. Jokinen 81 18 42 25 60
A. Barkov 66 28 31 18 59
J. Huberdeau 76 20 39 17 59
V. Trocheck 76 25 28 15 53
R. Smith 82 25 25 19 50
A. Ekblad 78 15 21 18 36
N. Bjugstad 67 15 19 -8 34
B. Campbell 82 6 25 31 31
B. Pirri 52 11 13 -4 24
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
R. Luongo 35 19 6 .922 2.35
A. Montoya 12 7 3 .919 2.18

 
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