Florida Panthers Development Camp came to a close today with the Red vs. Blue game. The crowd of 1,000 fans was treated to an exciting game that featured a goal from 2014 first overall pick Aaron Ekblad, and goals from both South Florida natives attending camp, Cody Payne and Colin Suellentrop.
The game consisted of two thirty-minute periods, which ended in a 5-5 tie. After an overtime of 4-on-4 and 3-on-3 could not break the deadlock, the game went to a shootout where Yaroslav Kosov scored the only goal, giving the Red Team the victory.
The Red Team jumped out to an early lead thanks to a goal from Mike Vecchione. Just a few minutes later, Logan Shaw ripped a wrist shot top shelf, which gave the Red Team a 2-0 lead heading into the locker room. The goalies during the first thirty-minutes were Colin Stevens for the Red Team and Hugo Fagerblom for the Blue Team.
Things opened up in the second half and after Tony Turgeon gave the Red Team a 3-0 lead, the Blue Team stormed back scoring five straight in a matter of minutes. Weston native Cody Payne got things going for the Blue Team and Aaron Ekblad fired one home moments later, much to the excitement of the fans in attendance.
Ekblad’s goal was the first of three straight from 2014 draftees as the ensuing goals were scored by Miguel Fidler (5th round, 143rd overall) and Juho Lammikko (3rd round, 65th overall). Lammikko’s goal gave the Blue Team a 4-3 lead, their first of the game.
Zach Hyman capped off the Blue Team’s furious rally, which left the score at 5-3, but with just four minutes left, Plantation native Colin Suellentrop blasted one home to bring the Red Team within one.
The excitement was not finished as the Red Team would score with just seconds left to tie the game at five, sending the game into a five-minute overtime that was split between 4-on-4 and 3-on-3.
The second half, overtime and the shootout featured a goalie dual between former University of Denver teammates: Sam Brittain, for the Blue Team, and Evan Cowley, for the Red Team.
With no score in overtime, the teams went to a shootout where Yaroslav Kosov was the only player to find the back of the net, giving the Red Team the victory.
Following an autograph session with the fans, the players headed their respective ways home to prepare for their upcoming seasons.
•Panthers fans came out in full force to see the young players play. The stands were completely full and the crowds watching on the glass went three or four people deep.
•The biggest cheer of the day came when top pick, Aaron Ekblad, ripped a slapshot past Evan Cowley. The goal was an impressive way for the defenseman to cap off an impressive development camp.
•The fans in attendance were also treated to goals from the two homegrown players in camp, Colin Suellentrop, from Plantation, and Cody Payne, from Weston.
•The duo from 2014 NCAA National Champions, Union College, acquitted themselves well throughout camp, and both G Colin Stevens and F Mike Vecchione finished with strong games. Vecchione got the scoring started and was noticeable throughout the game, just missing adding a second score on multiple occasions. Stevens also was impressive as he was the only netminder not to allow any goals. The two players will return to Union College next season and will be important players on the team looking to defend their title.
•Russian, Yaroslav Kosov was another player who impressed. The 6’3” forward used his big body to make it tough for defenders to dispossess him. Scoring the shootout winner was icing on the cake.
•Recently signed defenseman, MacKenzie Weegar, on his development camp:
“I felt pretty good. A lot of things to improve on but this is development camp and that is what it’s for. You make mistakes and you come back to camp in September and you don’t make them.”