SUMMERSIDE, P.E.I. The Florida Panthers arrived on P.E.I. to much fanfare Friday night.
The Panthers will take on the New York Islanders at Credit Union Place in Summerside on Saturday night in the first NHL-sanctioned game on P.E.I. Game time is 6pm EST.
"I think I¹ve only been here for about half an hour and I love it already," said Panthers defenseman Noah Welch, who¹s from the Boston suburb of Brighton, Mass.
"This is actually even cooler for me to come here and see a place like P.E.I., and see the people and the hospitality."
After being greeted with a welcoming reception at the Charlottetown Airport, the Panthers were given a police escort into the City of Summerside, where they were greeted by a piper as they stepped off their charter bus at the team hotel.
"This is unbelievable," said Welch. "It was a surprise to get off the plane and have a nice welcome with a bunch of children and families.
"We¹re really excited to be here and obviously the people are, too, and with the bagpipes it¹s been incredible. It¹s the first time I¹ve ever seen this."
The Panthers will hold a pre-game skate at Credit Union Place on Saturday morning at 10:30.
Admission is free to game-ticket holders and other fans can still get in by bringing a non-perishable food item that will be donated to the Salvation Army.
The Islanders, whose training camp is based in Moncton, N.B., will bus to Summerside Saturday afternoon.
"There are a lot of guys battling for spots right now and I think you¹re going to see a pretty intense matchup," said Panthers left-winger Tanner Glass.
The Panthers¹ reception also was not lost on Glass.
"It¹s pretty special and I haven¹t seen bagpipes ever," said Glass. The 24-year-old from Regina got a taste of NHL life last season, appearing in 41 games with the Panthers.
"I played about half a season last year and I¹m really trying to make the opening day roster this year," said Glass. "It¹s (camp) gone really well so far.
"I¹ve played one game in Edmonton and I¹m looking forward to playing in Summerside."