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Peeke's Points: A Few Points

by Staff Writer / Florida Panthers
Panthers Blogger Cliff Peeke
Cliff Peeke, a Panther season ticket holder since Day One, is back blogging on for a fourth season, giving the point of view on the Cats from a serious, die-hard fan’s perspective in his own blog titled Peeke's Points.

A Michigan native who’s played hockey (admittedly average at best) most of his life, Cliff grew up watching Red Wings games at the old Olympia Stadium. His allegiance changed to the Panthers the moment it was announced South Florida would have a team.

Cliff has played in adult leagues at IncredibleIce and his oldest son (age 28) plays there as well. His youngest son (age 12) is a member of the Panthers ’98 Panthers Alliance Tier 1 Pee Wee team.

Peeke's Points Archive

POINT ONE…Our family’s second home is Iceplex, what with our son playing on the tier one Jr. Panther Alliance team. Year after year, we see more improvements and that place is looking real nice. Most importantly, the number of people skating, playing, watching, dining, drinking, etc. there is unbelievable. I’ve directed a few people there and they comment that they never would have known hockey and skating (and curling) was as popular as it is…like a whole “other world” they never knew existed. It’s that way at many of the other South Florida rinks too. For us, it’s really been neat to see the popularity of hockey increase year after year. That means more awareness, which leads to more young fans, which means to more Panther fans in the region.

POINT TWO…This ties into the above point. Our son has been with the Jr. Panther program since around two years old, starting with the Stanley C skating program. It’s been travel hockey since he was six. Many years later, we reflect on how awesome the experience has been, as the travel hockey families become your “second family”. When you consider the number of trips taken, flights, hotels, different rinks around the country, dining out, etc., it’s just natural that families bond together and help each other out. 

That brings to mind an upcoming event that families in this area can be a part of. The Jr. Panther organization is hosting the upcoming Presidents Day tournament (2/18-2/21).  With the determination of one of the Jr. Panther dads, Alexander Braverman (a former citizen of the USSR), this has now become an INTERNATIONAL EVENT. Alexander was successful in arranging teams from Russia and Slovakia to be in this tournament. He needs help. These boys, age 12 and 13 will need American homes to stay in during their stay from 2/15 – 2/22. What an opportunity for them, and us, to share culture and learn from one another. Alexander recalls when he was a 12 year old in Moldavia and was arrested for simply talking to foreigners while on a school trip to Leningrad. Much has changed since the days of the Iron Curtain, and now these boys get to travel to the USA without restrictions and fear. How nice it would be if the South Florida community could open its arms and welcome these boys and share our lives and homes. For those interested in having one or two boys stay with you during that time, please contact Alexander Braverman for more information. He can be reached at 561.213.1051 or This could be a really awesome experience.

POINT THREE…There would have been no justification from the hockey gods if New Jersey won that game last night. Three weird and lucky goals by the Devils, and some terrible officiating almost did the Panthers in. Almost. Thanks to a poor Ilya Kovalchuk pass, Mike Santorelli (a fellow Northern Michigan University alumni), scored on a short-handed breakaway to tie the game late in the 3rd period, and Rostislav Olecz scored the winner in OT. The Panthers deserved that game. It’s obvious this team can compete with anybody game in and game out. Goals are tough to come by and every game has you at the edge of your seat. How about they throw in a 5-1 victory every once in a while?

POINT FOUR…We have missed a huge opportunity to gain points on Atlanta since we played them on January 17th, yet we are still only five points behind them with two games in hand. Amazing. I still think it’s going to take 92-94 points to gain a playoff spot, so that means winning about two-thirds of our remaining games. In the West, offensive no-name teams Nashville and Phoenix are (as of today) in the top-8. Not currently in a playoff spot is LA and Chicago…and that is surprising.

POINT FIVE…As our TV broadcasters point out, Keaton Ellerby is making a claim to be a full-time player on this team. He keeps this up…he makes the team next season and never looks back. Then we add 2010 first-round pick Erik Gudbranson and we’ve got ourselves a young, talented defense. Dmitry Kulikov is playing more offensively and keeps getting better. I’m really liking our “D”.

POINT SIX…Cory Stillman’s contract expires at the end of this season. He’s close to that age where retirement is an option. Sorry Cory…I see more time in this league for you. I’m hoping it’s in a Panther uniform. Our power play has improved since he’s gotten more ice time on it. Pay close attention to the finer points of his game, the awesome passes, puck control, and slowing the game down and you’ll see why he should still be here.

I enjoy reading the comments (some from around the world) after one of these…so please share your thoughts…my email is
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