Good morning and welcome to "Cats & Coffee," a weekly segment, presented by Koffee Kult, in which we serve up an exciting look at what's on deck for your Florida Panthers. Like our friends at Koffee Kult, this forecast serves up only the best -- so sit back, sip and enjoy our latest brew of news, notes and information!
There's a good chance a Florida Panther is in possession of a gold medal by this time next week.
The pool of 16 teams competing at the 2019 IIHF World Championship in Kosice and Bratislava, Slovakia will soon be trimmed down to just one. After the tournament's preliminary round wraps up on Tuesday, the top-four nations from Groups A and B will qualify for the playoffs, which begin on Thursday.
So far, all four members of the Panthers have already secured a spot in the quarterfinals.
With six goals and one assist in six games, Evgenii Dadonov has helped lead Team Russia to a perfect 6-0-0 record and the top spot in Group B. Of his six goals, four have come on the power play, which leads the entire tournament. A dominant force thus far, Russia has scored 29 goals while allowing just three.
Sitting in fourth place and in possession of the final playoff spot in Group B is Switzerland, which has certainly benefited from the play of Panthers forward prospect Vincent Praplan. Acquired by Florida from San Jose in February, he's posted one goal and five assists to push Switzerland to a 4-2-0 record.
As for Group A, the top-two spots both feature Panthers.
With a 5-0-1 record, Finland and Juho Lammikko currently own the top spot in the group. Unfortunately, however, Lammikko has had to sit out recent games while nursing an injury. Prior to the injury, the 23-year-old center had been garnering a good amount of praise for his sensational work on defense.
Luckily, it's being reported that Lammikko will be good to go by the time the knockout stage begins.
In second place in Group A sits Frank Vatrano and Team USA. Helping USA to a 4-1-1 record, he's tallied two goals and one assist in three games while also pacing the team's forwards with a solid plus-6 rating.
Will a Panther end up on top? Tune in to NHL Network and follow @FlaPanthers on Twitter to find out!
The full schedule for Panthers at World Championship this week is as follows:
Tuesday, May 21:
6:15 a.m. ET: Finland (Lammikko) vs. Germany
6:15 a.m. ET: Czech Republic vs. Switzerland (Praplan)
2:15 p.m. ET: Canada vs. USA (Vatrano)
2:15 p.m. ET: Sweden vs. Russia (Dadonov)
Thursday, May 23:
10:15 a.m. ET: Quarterfinal
10:15 a.m. ET: Quarterfinal
2:15 p.m. ET: Quarterfinal
2:15 p.m. ET: Quarterfinal
Saturday, May 25:
9:15 a.m. ET: Semifinal
1:15 p.m. ET: Semifinal
Sunday, May 26:
9:45 a.m. ET: Bronze medal game
2:15 p.m. ET: Gold medal game
LACE 'EM UP
Escape the South Florida heat this summer by hitting the rink and learning how to skate.
With the recent launch of another session of the "Learn to Skate" program, the opportunity for you or your children to feel the ice beneath your feet has never been easier. Designed for people ages four and above with little to no ice-skating experience, the program offers everything you'll need to get started.
Every participant in the program not only receives eight weeks of incredibly supportive on-ice training from certified instructors, but also a pair of brand-new hockey skates or figure skates to use throughout the program and keep upon its conclusion.
The program will be held at four local rinks in South Florida, including: Florida Panthers IceDen (Coral Springs), The Rink on the Beach (formerly Glacier Ice & Snow Arena- Pompano Beach), Palm Beach Ice Works (West Palm Beach) and Palm Beach Skate Zone (Lake Worth).
At the end of the program, any participant looking to further their training or continue on into the world of either hockey or figure skating will be given plenty of information on all available skating avenues.
The cost for the program is as follows:
Ages 12 & Under: $125
Ages 13 to 17: $175
Ages 18 & Older: $200
For more information or to register, please visit FloridaPanthers.com/LearnToSkate.
CALLING ALL CHAMPIONS
If you or someone you know has a group that's helping the community, we want to hear about it.
Entering its fourth season, the Community Champions Grant program, which is presented by Moss & Associates, LLC and the Moss Foundation, is committed to donating a total of $5 million -- $3 million has already been awarded! -- to local 501(c)(3) organizations or government agencies serving South Florida.
At each home game since the program launched, the Florida Panthers Foundation has awarded a grant for up to $25,000 to a local organization that typically falls under one of four key pillars - health and education for children, veteran's issues, youth hockey or raising awareness for the Florida panther.
For a closer look at what the program is all about, check out the stories below from past Champions:
- Panthers Help Bring Families Closer at Memorial West NICU
- Florida Wildlife Federation Hopes to Give Panther Safe Passage
- Panthers, HandsOn Broward Team Up to Honor Fallen Parkland Teacher
- Sweet Dream Makers, Panthers Fight for a Good Night's Sleep
If you believe you know an organization deserving of a grant, they can apply for the 2019-20 Florida Panthers Community Champions Grant Program by visiting FloridaPanthers.com/CommunityChampions.
CATS CLIP OF THE WEEK
There were lots of laughs and at least one pie-related incident when Keith Yandle and his family competed on Double Dare Live!
Video: Keith Yandle Competes on Double Dare Live!
CATS IN THE COMMUNITY
On the latest episode of Territory Talk, Panthers Senior Vice President Shawn Thornton sits down with Doug Plagens and Jameson Olive to discuss his work with the Panthers, his first-hand account of what it's like to compete in the playoffs, and what it's like to craft a beer with the Funky Buddha Brewery.
COLD COFFEE (IN CASE YOU MISSED IT)
-- The Panthers have committed to privately financing the restoration and revitalization of the historic War Memorial Auditorium in Fort Lauderdale.
-- What's Aaron Ekblad working on this offseason? Find out in the latest installment of the "Summer Plans" series.
-- REWIND: Frank Vatrano broke out in a big way during his first full season with the Panthers.
-- The Panthers signed forward prospect Aleksi Heponiemi to a three-year, entry-level contract.
-- REWIND: Evgenii Dadonov was the unsung hero of Florida's tenacious top-scoring line.
-- The Panthers are heading back to Oklahoma for a preseason game against the Dallas Stars at BOK Center on Sept. 21.