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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.”
UPCOMING EVENTS

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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - BOS 82 54 19 9 261 177 117
2 y - PIT 82 51 24 7 249 207 109
3 x - TBL 82 46 27 9 240 215 101
4 x - MTL 82 46 28 8 215 204 100
5 x - NYR 82 45 31 6 218 193 96
6 x - PHI 82 42 30 10 236 235 94
7 x - CBJ 82 43 32 7 231 216 93
8 x - DET 82 39 28 15 222 230 93
9 WSH 82 38 30 14 235 240 90
10 NJD 82 35 29 18 197 208 88
11 OTT 82 37 31 14 236 265 88
12 TOR 82 38 36 8 231 256 84
13 CAR 82 36 35 11 207 230 83
14 NYI 82 34 37 11 225 267 79
15 FLA 82 29 45 8 196 268 66
16 BUF 82 21 51 10 157 248 52

STATS

2013-2014 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
N. Bjugstad 76 16 22 -14 38
S. Upshall 76 15 22 1 37
B. Campbell 82 7 30 -6 37
B. Boyes 78 21 15 -6 36
S. Bergenheim 62 16 13 -16 29
J. Huberdeau 69 9 19 -5 28
T. Fleischmann 80 8 20 -18 28
T. Gilbert 73 3 25 -5 28
B. Pirri 49 13 12 6 25
A. Barkov 54 8 16 -3 24
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
R. Luongo 25 23 7 .919 2.40
S. Clemmensen 6 7 1 .896 3.09
 
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