Congratulations to our Goal of a Lifetime finalists: Dustin Smith & Bill Ruggiero! After Robb Tallas announced the two finalists, they stepped into the spotlight on SportsCenter and in front of the local Florida media. These two will compete tomorrow at the first intermission of the Florida Panthers match-up with the Montreal Canadiens. Panthers Alumni Marco Sturm and Radek Dvorak will shoot on the two goaltenders and the winner will be announced during the game.
The participant with the longest trek to BB&T Center was Darcy Ramstead of Red Deer, Alberta. Introduced to the media by fellow Red Deer native Randy Moller, Ramstead journeyed down to South Florida for the first time from Western Canada with his friends to take part in the Goal of a Lifetime.
"I jumped on a plane, flew into Dallas, three and a half hours to Dallas, had an hour layover and then flew into Fort Lauderdale," said Ramstead. "It's been pretty exciting since."
Ramstead will be in attendance for his first game at BB&T Center tomorrow night as the Panthers face the Montreal Canadiens. Ramstead sees this opportunity to not only live out a dream for himself but to make his mother proud as well.
"This is for real here," said Ramstead about the rigors of the Robb Tallas helmed competition. "I didn't expect all that, but whatever. I'm taking it all in and enjoying it. My mom's battling cancer too right now, so that's why I came down. She's pretty excited for me."
"I'm all nerved up, it's a pretty exciting moment just to be on the ice with all these great players. It's a dream as a little Canadian boy for sure to grow up and get a chance on the NHL ice."
Ramstead, a men's league goaltender in a central Alberta league, saw the opportunity to come down to South Florida for the contest as a "lottery", and looks forward to letting a few of his friends from back home never forget it.
"I basically hit the lottery. Now who's got bragging rights?"
"It's going to be difficult because there's a lot of people who are pretty equal out here but at the end of the day, it's fun," -- Panthers Goalie Coach Robb Tallas.
Here's what Tallas had to say about today's participants:
The group of media goalies hit the ice after group one today and were led by ESPN SportsCenter anchor, Linda Cohn. The former SUNY Oswego goaltender got back on the ice to face a few pucks and enjoy the chance to try and stop shots from some former Florida Panthers.
"This has been an amazing experience," said Cohn. "Playing goal all my life, I hadn't played in a long, long time but when I saw this opportunity of the Florida Panthers turning a negative into a positive, I had to do it. I thought it would be a great idea."
"I look around and see all these fabulous goalies that also took advantage of this opportunity to live a dream, that's why the Panthers called it 'Goal of a Lifetime', that's what it is. To be out an NHL ice surface, you can't even imagine how great it is."
"I'm still on a high and it's going to take a long time to come down from it."
Cohn is one of four female contestants in today's contest.
One of today's participants, Nick Dube travelled from Berlington, Vermont to be a part of the Goal of a Lifetime. Dube is currently a goaltender for the University of Vermont's ACHA Division-2 Club team.
"I'm having a lot of fun out here," said Dube. "I can't even put it into words."
The long trip for Dube was made possible by donations through GoFundMe and Youtube's channel Whistle Sports.
Joined on the ice by Panthers Goalie Coach Robb Tallas and former Panther Tomas Vokoun, Dube is thrilled to get the opportunity to share the ice with the former NHL netminders.
"It's unbelievable. Those are the guys you grow up watching," said Dube. "It's been a blast."
Vokoun is enjoying his role as a coach in today's competition, but knows that the chance for these amateur goaltenders to be out on NHL ice is something special.
"For these people to get a chance to be on the ice in an NHL arena and to have ex-NHL players shooting on them is just a great experience," said Vokoun. "There's a big parity in talent and skill set and all that, but that's not what it's about.'
"It comes down to that they are having fun and just enjoying this whole experience."
Dube is just one of the many today enjoying his time at BB&T Center.
"As long as [the puck] hits me, I'm happy," said Dube.
Group one try-outs are underway. Panthers Goalie Coach Robb Tallas is giving instruction to the 24 hopeful particpants who will show what they've got in net until 1:30 p.m.
Fans and families of participants are watching from the stands of BB&T Center. Doors will be open until 4 p.m. (Pantherland) for those who want to watch the action live.
The Fox Sports Florida Girls are also here in the building to watch the festivities.
Jerseys are outside and ready for check-in as we begin the #GoalofaLifetime contest at BB&T Center.
Here's a breakdown of today's attendees-->
Of the 68 participants invited to the next round, 58 are confirmed. They range in age from 18-57 and one participant has traveled 2,993 miles to be here today!
- 48- Florida
- 5- Canada
- 2- New Jersey
- 1- Tennessee
- 1- Massachusetts
- 1- Vermont
SportsCenter's Linda Cohn will be trying out today as well! Tune your TV to SportsCenter to keep tabs on the day.