Nearly 1,300 fans packed the Saveology.com IcePlex in Coral Springs tonight to see the future of the Florida Panthers as the team's rookies battled the rookies of the Nashville Predators.
While falling 5-0 in the contest, the Panthers showed tremendous grit, skill and character, battling from the opening face-off until the final horn sounded.
"Obviously we're not happy with the result out there," said 2010 first round pick (3rd overall) Erik Gudbranson
. "At the end of the day, I don't think the guys came together necessarily as much as we should have in the first game. Obviously it's tough because it is the first game."
"We're going to have to step it up tomorrow and come out and beat them."
The Predators rookie squad was led by a two-goal performance by Taylor Beck and Ryan Ellis, who scored the game's first goal and assisted on the team's second. Chet Pickard and Anders Lindback combined to stop all 40 of the Panthers shots in a shutout effort.
Nashville jumped on the board twice within the first 3:50 of the game as Ellis found the back of the net from just inside the blueline and Beck scored the first of his two power play goals.
"They jumped on us early there," said Amerks and Rookie head coach Chuck Weber. "They got that first goal and kind of got us on our heels and then we get a penalty. Now they have a penalty kill and boom we're down 2-0. I felt like we were back peddling for a good part."
"It's not easy to go down like that," said Gudbranson. "It turns uphill battle and you don't want to be in the situation."
Evgeny Dadonov was a bright spot for the Cats, consistently finding the puck on his stick and firing at will.
"I thought we got better as the game went on," said Weber. "I thought our scoring chances picked up in the second and third period. We just didn't bury them."
Marc Cheverie anchored the Panthers in net, turning away 19 of the 21 shots he faced in the first period, and 23 of 26 overall.
"They were applying some hard pressure to us and we couldn't match it at the beginning," said 2010 first round pick (#25 overall) Quinton Howden
. "At the end we were playing a lot better but we have to put in a full sixty tomorrow."
Florida and Nashville also took part in a five-man shootout following the end of the game. Nashville took home the win in the one-on-one battle as well, earning a 2-1 decision as Austin Watson and Mark Santorelli beat Brian Foster
while 2010 second round pick John McFarland
answered with the loan Panthers goal, beating Lindback with a deke before going top shelf.
The two teams return to the ice tomorrow with the puck scheduled to drop at 12:00 P.M.
NSH - Goal - Ryan Ellis unassisted (1:17)
NSH - PP Goal - Taylor Beck from Ryan Ellis & Blake Geoffrion (3:50)2nd PERIOD
NSH - PP Goal - Taylor Beck from Blake Geoffrion & Chris Mueller (8:09)3rd PERIOD
NSH - Goal - Michael Latta from Charles-Oliver Roussel & Jamie Doombos (2:22)
NSH - Goal - Blake Geoffrion from Chris Mueller (15:05)