SUNRISE, Fla. – The Florida Panthers announced today that Bill Ruggiero and Dustin Smith have been chosen as the two finalists selected for the team’s Goal of a Lifetime competition to become the Panthers’ back-up practice goaltender for a day.
Ruggiero, 34, is a former professional/semi-pro goaltender who spent time playing for the Tulsa Oilers of the Central Hockey League (2004-05, 2006-07), Johnstown Chiefs of the East Coast Hockey League (2001-02) and the Flint Generals of the International Hockey League (2007-08). Ruggiero resides in Melbourne, Florida.
Smith, 27, played for Middle Tennessee State University (2006-09) and has experience practicing with the Nashville Predators (2012-13). Smith resides in Nashville, Tennessee.
The Panthers received over 1,500 applications for the contest from 42 states and 15 countries, before inviting 65 to participate. The participants hailed from various locations, including 48 from Florida, five from Canada, two from New Jersey and one each from, Massachusetts, Tennessee and Vermont. The competition included two 90-minute sessions, run by Panthers’ Goaltending Coach Robb Tallas, while a number of Panthers Alumni participated as shooters in the competition
Fans are encouraged to tweet with #GOALBill and #GOALDustin to show their support for the final two contestants. The two goaltenders will face off in a shootout showdown with Panthers Alumni during the first intermission of Tuesday’s game against the Montreal Canadiens.
Florida continues their push to the playoffs with a three-game homestand starting with Montreal on Tuesday, March 17. Tickets for all three games of the homestand and are still available and can be purchased by calling 954-835-PUCK or by visiting FloridaPanthers.com/ticketcentral.