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Our Florida Panthers are home for the briefest of times this week, but they certainly gave South Florida hockey fans something to cheer about last night during a 4-1 win over the Dallas Stars at the BankAtlantic Center.
It’s been an exciting preseason so far, with the Cats amassing a 4-3 record including two consecutive wins over Dallas.
For anyone that was there last night, or saw the highlights, it’s clear that our guys are focused on getting off to a fast start in the 2009-10 season. Personally, I was very impressed with the Sunrise Express line of Stephen Weiss
, Nathan Horton and David Booth.
Coach Pete DeBoer has said throughout the preseason that this trio has been our most consistent line thus far, and that continued to be the case last night with both Booth and Weiss scoring, and Horton chipping in an assist.
Fans also had to be thrilled with the return of Radek Dvorak, who put up a goal and an assist and was named first star of the game. And how about some of our new players and young faces, like defensemen Dennis Seidenberg and Jordan Leopold, center Steve Reinprecht, and rookies Dmitry Kulikov
and Shawn Matthias
– they all injected some fresh excitement into the lineup.
Tomorrow, we head off on a 12-hour flight to Finland to open the season as part of the NHL Premiere in Helsinki. It will be a great opportunity for us to continue to gel as a unit, as I know Coach DeBoer has some special team-building events planned. Make sure you check back regularly to FloridaPanthers.com for updates throughtout the week.
In addition, our two nationally televised games against the Chicago Blackhawks are a chance for our team to make a name for themselves around the league and open the season on a positive note. We have talked all offseason about the importance of getting off to a good start, and that opportunity is finally upon us.
But let’s not forget, that just a few days after we return from Finland, is Opening Night at the BankAtlantic Center when the Cats host the New Jersey Devils. It will be a bit strange for our home opener to be game no. 4 of the season (at Carolina on Oct. 9), but judging by some of the groups of excited fans I spoke to last night, the ‘Center of it All’ is going to be rocking when the Devils come to town.
That said, it’s our job on the business side to make sure our Cats come home to an intimidating home ice advantage. Our ticket sales department is working hard to sell out Opening Night, and to ensure large, passionate crowds at the BankAtlantic Center throughout October and November.
If I could get one message across to all of our fans, it’s that we need you to help us get off to that fast start we keep talking about. In that vein we are soon unveiling a new marketing campaign called “Feel The Growl”, that will undoubtedly get our fans, and the South Florida community, energized about the return of Panthers hockey.
Thanks to Pete Gary and the creative people at Hi-Voltage Advertising in Boca Raton, we have a sharp, ultra-sensory campaign that will grab fans and reel them in to the exciting aspects of live hockey action at the BankAtlantic Center. Fans should keep an eye out for our creative launching next week.
But for now, it’s time to prepare for our nine-day trip to Helsinki, and get back to business on selling out Opening Night. I hope to see you there and thanks for reading.