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Cats & Coffee: World Cup of Hockey Preliminary Round Begins

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.

There’s plenty to be happy about on this Labor Day.

First of all, it’s more than likely that you are reading this article from the comfort of your home rather than work, sipping a cup of coffee from your favorite mug instead of a flimsy paper cup from a break room.

Second, and this one should be obvious, is that another weekend in the books means that we are now closer than ever to seeing your Florida Panthers return to action at the BB&T Center.

That being said, a handful of Panthers players will be making their return to the ice a bit earlier than the rest of their teammates, as Vincent Trocheck, Aleksander Barkov, Jussi Jokinen and Aaron Ekblad were all chosen to participate in the upcoming 2016 World Cup of Hockey in Toronto.

From Sept. 17 to Oct. 1, 2016, eight teams - Team Canada, Team Czech Republic, Team Finland, Team Russia, Team Sweden, Team USA, Team Europe and Team North America - will compete in a best-on-best international hockey championship.

Trocheck, who was added to the tournament on Friday, will join Ekblad on Team North America, which features the top Canadian and American players who will be 23 years old or younger as of Oct. 1, 2016. Barkov and Jokinen, meanwhile, will represent Finland, with Jokinen serving as one of the team’s alternate captains.

Panthers head coach Gerard Gallant, who was an All-Star and finalist for the Jack Adams trophy last season, will also serve as an assistant coach for Team North America.

The two-week tournament, featuring more than 150 of the best hockey players in the world, will begin with a 12-game pre-tournament schedule that will be played from Sept. 8-14.

This week’s schedule is as follows:

Thursday, September 8

Team Czech Republic vs. Team Russia - Yubileyny Sports Palace, St. Petersburg

12:30pm - ESPN3, Sportsnet, TVA Sports

Team Sweden vs. Team Finland (Barkov, Jokinen) - Hartwall Arena; Helsinki

Noon ET/7 p.m. local - ESPN3, Sportsnet, TVA Sports

Team Europe vs. Team North America (Trocheck, Ekblad) - Videotron Centre; Quebec City

8 p.m. ET - ESPN2, Sportsnet, TVA Sports

Friday, September 9

Team Canada vs. Team USA - Nationwide Arena; Columbus

7 p.m. ET - ESPNU, Sportsnet, TVA Sports

Saturday, September 10

Team Finland (Barkov/Jokinen) vs. Team Sweden - Scandinavium; Gothenburg

Noon ET/6 p.m. local - ESPN3, Sportsnet, TVA Sports

Team Russia vs. Team Czech Republic - O2 Arena; Prague

10:30 a.m. ET/4:30 p.m. local - ESPN3, Sportsnet, TVA Sports

Team USA vs. Team Canada - Canadian Tire Centre; Ottawa

7 p.m. ET - ESPN3, Sportsnet, TVA Sports

Sunday, September 11

Team Europe vs. Team North America (Trocheck, Ekblad) - Bell Centre; Montreal

6 p.m. ET - ESPN3, Sportsnet, TVA Sports

Make sure to check back next week for our full World Cup preview, which will include schedules, statistics and other useful bits of information.

VALUE PACK

Whether it's a family outing or a night out with your best friends, the Panthers’ recently unveiled Value Pack is a great way to make sure that you don’t miss any of the action at the BB&T Center during the upcoming season.

The Value Pack features four tickets, one parking pass and Flex Bucks, which can be used to purchase Panthers merchandise at the BB&T Center in Pantherland or food and beverages at Coca-Cola Stands while you are at the game.

The available Value Pack options are as follows:

•The Lower End Package includes seats in the Lower Bowl and $60 in Flex Bucks to share amongst your group.

•The Club End Package includes $50 in Flex Bucks to share amongst your group.

•The Upper End Package includes seats in the Upper Bowl and $40 in Flex Bucks.

One-fourth of the bucks for each package will be pre-loaded on to each ticket. For example, the Lower End Package would come with $15 loaded on to each ticket. Multiple tickets can be used towards a transaction.

Click here to learn more about this great offer.

IN THE NEWS

- The Panthers are committed to growing the game of hockey in South Florida by improving and nurturing their local youth hockey programs, writes Sun Sentinel reporter Harvey Fialkov.

- The Panthers were among the league’s five most impressive teams this offseason, writes USA Today reporter Kevin Allen.

COLD COFFEE (IN CASE YOU MISSED IT)

- The Panthers were one of the most active teams in the entire NHL this offseason, making numerous trades and acquiring top-tier free agents. Recently, FloridaPanthers.com reporter Jameson Olive sat down with Florida’s assistant general managers, Steve Werier and Eric Joyce, to discuss these moves and more.

- 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.

- The Panthers will kick off their preseason with a four-team rookie tournament at the Panthers IceDen in Coral Springs, Fla., from Sept. 17-20.

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