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Peeke's Points: Never Again

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

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 25) plays there as well. His youngest son (age 9) is a member of the Jr. Panthers ’98 Squirt Travel Team.

Peeke's Points Archive

I took a couple good friends, and we each brought our 10 year old boys to the Devils game on the night before Thanksgiving. My buddies had limited knowledge of the game, and I felt bad that the game being played by the Panthers was certainly far from entertaining. We played sloppy and slow, rarely connecting on our passes, and allowed the Devils to take a two goal lead. And against the Devils, a lead like that is usually insurmountable.

Knowing that my family had to get up at 4:30 am on Thanksgiving to catch an early flight to Philadelphia for Andrew’s Jr. Panther travel hockey tournament, I did something I never do… left my seats to leave the building before the horn sounded. Just as we reached the concourse a goal was scored, which we saw on the TV, and we raced back in. We scored again with seconds remaining to force overtime, which we eventually lost… but we did earn a point… a point that seemed impossible to earn with time winding down in the third period. That point was huge. Without it, we would have been 8-12-0-1 and the season looking bleak. With it, and the mental victory gained, we went to 8-11-2. That was followed by another point earned against the Rangers on the Friday after Thanksgiving in a shootout loss. And then we reached another gear winning six of the next seven games.

Including the comeback point against the Devils, the Panthers have earned 14 of a possible 18 points. We are one of the hottest teams in the league, and as I wrote a week ago, we are doing this with too many good players not playing due to injuries. Somehow, we figured it out, and in the process the team seems to be finding its identity. And thankfully, we are not using injuries as an excuse for pathetic play. It’s different this season… and so refreshing. Injuries affect every team… the good teams work through them.

I love Anderson’s play in the net (see previous blog), and then Vokoun comes up with a huge win Friday night against Keenan’s Flames. I wish the game was televised, I would have enjoyed seeing the look of defeat on his face… I’m obviously still angered at how he set this franchise back a couple of years with his botched tenure as a GM here. And by the way… what’s up with the no televised games… we’re missing some great contests from what I hear and read. So I’ll be back on the internet for tonight’s game against the Canucks.

Because of the hole we dug earlier this season, we can’t let up for even one shift. Because even though we’re HOT, we are still sitting smack dab in the middle of the pack at #15 of 30 teams. We can’t let up. We have two more road games before we play again at home. Imagine if we can rack up a few more points before our home game.

If we do… then next Sunday’s home game against the Avalanche will be an absolute riot to attend. Let’s fill the place up. It’s a 5:00 start… a great time to bring the kids. More than anything… it’s a meaningful game in late December and that’s something we’ve not had much of in the past several seasons. And I promise not to leave early.
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