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Cats & Coffee: Preparing for the Preseason, Summer Cats a Success

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.

As summer in South Florida begins to wind down, it’s time to start looking ahead to what promises to be a very special season for the Florida Panthers, beginning with the team’s seven-game preseason next month.

The Panthers will open their 2016-17 preseason on Tuesday, Sept. 27 with a doubleheader at the BB&T Center against Nashville at 3:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. Florida will also host intrastate rival Tampa Bay on Thursday, Oct. 6 at 7:30 p.m.

In addition to their traditional home and away contests, the Panthers will also be participating in a pair of preseason games at neutral sites, starting with a matchup against the Dallas Stars in London, Ontario, on Sunday, Oct. 2. The game will take place at Budweiser Gardens, home of the Ontario Hockey League’s London Knights.

“We are very excited to showcase Panthers hockey outside of South Florida to a great hockey town like said,” Panthers Executive Chairman Peter Luukko said in a release. “Budweiser Gardens is a first class facility and an excellent venue for fans to watch two exciting, 2015-16 division-winning teams like Florida and Dallas face off. It is sure to be a terrific event for both the players and the city of London.

If you are thinking about making the trip across the border to support the Cats, tickets to the game will go on sale at 10 a.m. on Monday, Aug. 15 (that’s today!) and can be purchased at or by phone at 1-866-455-2849.  

In the final tune-up of the preseason, the Panthers will also travel to the United States Military Academy in West Point, N.Y., on Saturday, Oct. 8 to battle the New Jersey Devils at Tate Rink, the home of Army Hockey.

“We are honored to have West Point host the Panthers for this preseason game,” Panthers Owner, Chairman and Governor Vincent Viola said in a release. “The values and character taught at West Point are ingrained in our team culture and the philosophy of our organization.”

The Panthers’ preseason game at West Point marks the team’s fourth visit to the Military Academy, having previously visited West Point for team-building trips in 1995, 2007 and 2014.

Florida’s full preseason schedule is as follows:

Tuesday, Sept. 27: Nashville at Florida - 3:30 p.m. (BB&T Center)

Tuesday, Sept. 27: Nashville at Florida - 7 p.m. (BB&T Center)

Thursday, Sept. 29: Florida at Tampa Bay - 7:30 p.m. (Amalie Arena)

Sunday, Oct. 2: Dallas vs. Florida  - 7 p.m.  (Budweiser Gardens in London, Ont.)

Tuesday, Oct. 4: Florida at Dallas – 7:30 p.m. (American Airlines Center)

Thursday, Oct. 6: Tampa Bay at Florida – 7:30 p.m. (BB&T Center)

Saturday, Oct. 8: Florida vs. New Jersey – 7:30 p.m. (Tate Rink in West Point, N.Y.)

In addition to this exciting slate of preseason games, the Panthers will also be hosting a four-team rookie tournament during training camp, from Sept. 17-20 at the Panthers Ice Den in Coral Springs. The tournament will include Nashville, Tampa Bay and Washington, and all games will be free and open to the public.

For ticketing information on suite rentals, club suites and group experiences, or to simply learn more about full and partial ticket packages, please call 954-835-PUCK or visit


In partnership with local Boys & Girls Clubs and YMCAs, the Panthers’ inaugural “Summer Cats” ball hockey program recently succeeded in bringing the sport of hockey to many local children.

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.

Then, on Aug. 3, the top-4 teams at each level descended upon the BB&T Center to compete in a one-day playoff to crown this year’s South Florida Champion.

Click here to check out video footage from the event.


- A first-round pick (23rd overall) in the 2012 NHL Draft, defenseman Mike Matheson competed in only three regular-season games for the Panthers last season before taking on a much larger role in the team’s opening-round playoff series against the New York Islanders.

“I thought I handled being cast into the fire pretty well,” Matheson said. “I obviously wish I’d been able to do more so that we could have gone further in the playoffs than we did, but I was happy with the way I played. I took each game as a new game and kept things simple early. As the game progressed, I’d try to get a little more involved. As the series went on, my games got better and better.”

- With a unique blend of size and skill, 6-foot-4, 212-pound winger Lawson Crouse has the ability to contribute equally on both offense and defense, but it all starts with his very general physical approach to the game.

- In conjunction with the NHL, the NHLPA and USA Hockey, the Panthers will be hosting “Florida Panthers Learn to Play,” a program for boys and girls ages 4-8 who have never participated in an organized ice hockey program.

- Single-game tickets for the 2016-17 season are now on sale!

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