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Cats & Coffee: Ball Hockey Championship, Learn to Play

by Jameson Olive / Florida Panthers

Good morning and welcome to “Cats & Coffee,” a weekly segment presented by Community Coffee in which we get you caffeinated with an exciting look at the week ahead for the Florida Panthers.

No ice? No problem!

After what has definitely been far too long of a hiatus, hockey will finally return to the BB&T Center this week as nearly 500 children descend upon the Florida Panthers’ arena to compete for ball hockey bragging rights.

In partnership with local Boys & Girls Clubs and YMCAs, the Panthers’ inaugural “Summer Cats” ball hockey program succeeding in bringing the sport of hockey to many local children, providing street hockey equipment (nets, sticks, shin pads, gloves, goalie gear, etc.) and rink borders to all locations.

Throughout the summer, the program hosted internal ball hockey leagues that were run at the Mite (ages 6-8), Squirt (ages 9-10) and Peewee (ages 11-12) age levels.

Now, the Top-4 teams from each age division from both the BGCBC and YMCAs will head to the BB&T Center on Aug. 3 to compete in a one-day playoff in order to crown the program’s first-ever South Florida Champions.


If you have a child that is interested in learning to play hockey, there is no better time to start than the present.

The “Florida Panthers Learn to Play” initiative is run in partnership with the NHL, the NHLPA and USA Hockey. The six-week program costs $100 and is directed at boys and girls ages 4-8 who have never participated in an organized ice hockey program.

The program’s curriculum is designed in conjunction with USA Hockey’s “Gold Standard,” which utilizes an age-appropriate development structure known as the American Development Model. This model ensures that the children in attendance will be provided with a structure is both fun and effective.

“It’s important for us to take any and all opportunities to introduce hockey to children,” Panthers Manager of Youth Hockey Matt Janusz said. “Both Summer Cats and Learn To Play are incredible resources to do just that. These programs help us not only to create and develop future hockey players, but also hockey fans.”

In addition to invaluable on-ice training sessions with Panthers Alumni and USA Hockey Certified Coaches, participants in the program also receive a full set of Panthers branded hockey equipment and a voucher for two free tickets to a select Panthers weekend home game during the upcoming season.

Registration for “Learn to Play” begins this week and the following five rinks are participating in the program: Florida Panthers IceDen (Coral Springs), Glacier Ice & Snow Arena (Pompano Beach), Kendall Ice Arena (Miami), Palm Beach Ice Works (West Palm Beach) and Palm Beach Skate Zone (Lake Worth).

This year, the Panthers’ goal is to enroll 400 children into “Learn To Play,” so please visit the program’s website to learn more about how to get in on this new and exciting opportunity.


The Panthers and Everglades Holiday Park are decorating a new airboat to be used for local everglades tours and we need your help selecting a good name for this fan-propelled cruiser.

Click HERE to submit your entry.


In one of the many stops on his “Bad Man Tour,” South Florida recording artist Pitbull made sure to bring plenty of fun to the BB&T Center on Sunday night, delivering a full-on dance party and unique theatrics that only “Mr. 305” can provide.

After the show, several members of Panthers management, including President Matthew Caldwell and Executive Chairman Peter Luukko, presented the Grammy Award-winning artist with a custom Panthers jersey.

Picture that with a Kodak!


-- Henrik Borgstrom, the Panthers’ first-round pick in June’s NHL draft, isn’t always trying to make jokes, but when the opportunity presents itself, the 18-year-old Finn simply can’t resist. Learn how he brought both laughs and skill to this year’s development camp.

-- A fourth-round pick (144th overall) in June’s draft, defenseman Riley Stillman’s father, Cory, recorded 109 points (39-70—109) in 165 games for the Panthers from 2008-11. What’s it like for Riley to follow in his father’s footsteps? Find out in our informative Q&A with the 18-year-old blueliner.

-- Panthers alumni played in a charity game up in Fort Myers this weekend

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