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!
Juho Lammikko and Evgenii Dadonov are both heading home with some new hardware.
In an absolute stunner, Finland - a team that featured only two players that suited up in the NHL last season, including Lammikko - shocked the hockey world with a 3-1 win over powerhouse Canada to claim the gold medal at the 2019 IIHF World Championship in Slovakia on Sunday.
Marko Anttila scored twice and Harri Pesonen added a late insurance goal with 4:06 remaining in regulation time to secure the win. In net, goalie Kevin Lankinen, who spent time last season in Chicago's system playing in both the AHL and ECHL, was outstanding, stopping 43 of 44 shots.
Mark Stone (CAN) was named the tournament's MVP after notching eight goals and 14 points.
As for Lammikko, who made his NHL debut and competed in 40 games with the Panthers in the 2018-19 campaign, the 23-year-old helped keep Canada's strong offense in check throughout the game, finishing with 18:10 of ice time - the second-most minutes among Finland's forwards.
Lammikko's gold medal - Finland's third overall - came in his first appearance at the Worlds.
As for Dadonov, despite being dispatched by Lammikko and the Finns during a 1-0 thriller in the semifinals, the 30-year-old winger and the Russians rebounded to defeat the Czech Republic 3-2 in a shootout in the bronze-medal game. Dadonov registered three shots on goal in the win.
His third bronze and fifth medal overall at the annual tournament (he previously took home gold in 2014 and silver in 2015), Dadonov was one of the top offensive players at this year's event, posting seven goals - including a tournament-leading four on the power play -- and four assists.
The other two members of the Panthers organization competing at the Worlds, Frank Vatrano (USA) and Vincent Praplan (SUI), failed to medal, but still performed well. Vatrano recorded a pair of goals and an assist, while Praplan, a pending free agent, tallied a goal and five assists.
HOCKEYFEST IS BACK!
Who's ready to check out the latest and greatest gear?
The Panthers will be hosting their ninth annual HockeyFest on Saturday, June 1 at the Panthers IceDen in Coral Springs. The event is scheduled to run from 12-4 p.m. and is aimed at providing local hockey players with a chance try out the latest equipment through interactive experiences.
From sticks to skates to pads, top equipment manufacturers including Bauer, CCM, Warrior and Sherwood will be on-site for demos. Public skating will also be available from 1-3 p.m., with the cost for admission and skate rental for $8.50. Everything else, as usual, is free for all to enjoy!
Outside the IceDen, street hockey, music, inflatables and food trucks will keep the party going.
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's launch, 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 helping the Florida panther.
For a closer look at what the program is all about, check out the stories below from past Community 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 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
The Panthers and YMCA of South Florida are teaming up to provide free swimming and water safety lessons for underserved children in Broward County.
Video: Panthers Community Champions: YMCA of South Florida
CATS IN THE COMMUNITY
On the latest episode of Territory Talk, Doug Plagens and Jameson Olive break down Panthers President of Hockey Operations & General Manager Dale Tallon's appearance on the NHL's Executive Suite Podcast. Also, the duo discusses the recent signing of Finnish forward prospect Aleksi Heponiemi.
COLD COFFEE (IN CASE YOU MISSED IT)
-- From best goal to best beard, vote for your favorite Panthers in the NHL's Fan Choice Awards.
-- The Panthers have committed to privately financing the restoration and revitalization of the historic War Memorial Auditorium in Fort Lauderdale.
-- The Panthers signed forward prospect Aleksi Heponiemi to a three-year, entry-level contract.
-- The Panthers and South Florida YMCA want you to take the "Water Watcher's Pledge" this summer.
-- REWIND: Vincent Trocheck overcame one of the biggest hurdles of his career in 2018-19.
-- A family gathering and training with Aleksander Barkov are just a few things that Henrik Borgstrom has lined up this offseason. You can check out the rest in the latest installment of the "Summer Plans" series.
-- REWIND: Josh Brown achieved a lifelong dream this season… but he's not done.
-- The Panthers are heading back to Oklahoma for a preseason game against the Dallas Stars at BOK Center on Sept. 21.
Cats & Coffee's featured image credited to Matt Zambonin / ImagesOnIce.net