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The Perfect Start

by Staff Writer / Florida Panthers
Forward Michal Repik (Getty Images)
By Dave Joseph for

Making his NHL debut Monday in Ottawa – and with his parents watching on the internet in the Czech Republic – Michal Repik made sure it was an unforgettable evening.

The Panthers’ 19-year-old rookie helped the Panthers to a 4-3 victory against the Senators by scoring his first NHL goal in the second period.

“My dream came true,” said Repik as he boarded a charter flight in Ottawa Tuesday morning with the rest of the Panthers for Edmonton to prepare for Thursday’s game against the Oilers.

“I’m happy,” he added. “I worked hard for this, playing in the NHL. I’m happy I got the chance and I’m going to show everybody I can play in this league.”

The Panthers’ second-round draft pick (40th overall) in the 2007 Entry Draft, Repik scored at 3:52 of the second period when he banged home the rebound of a Keith Ballard shot to tie the game at two. The Panthers came back from three, one-goal deficits Monday before Stephen Weiss scored the game winner in overtime.

“Ballard went wide and I just went to the net,” Repik recalled. “He shot the puck and I got the rebound.”

And who got the puck?

“I think Ballard took the puck for me,” Repik said. “The staff has it and I’ll do something with the puck when they give it to me.”

With Cory Stillman, David Booth, Nathan Horton, Richard Zednik and Rostislav Olesz out with injuries, Repik was called up from the Panthers’ American Hockey League affiliate in Rochester, where he led the team in scoring with six goals and eight assists.

Repik's First NHL Goal
Repik, who played with Vancouver in the Western Hockey League last season, was told he’d be joining the Panthers after Sunday’s game in Rochester.

“I didn’t expect it, but I knew they had lots of injuries here right now,” he said. “I think I was playing pretty good hockey in the AHL, so, maybe, I was thinking I might be called up.”

Repik, who played alongside Shawn Matthias and Nick Tarnasky and was on the ice for 7:27, said he was able to adjust to the speed of the NHL.

“The game was fast, and there were not many whistles in the first period,” Repik said. “Guys were moving pucks pretty good here, but that’s a little better because guys can move the puck very good and they can find you.”

The Panthers, 5-1-2 in their last eight games and having earned 12 of a possible 16, continue their road trip Thursday at Edmonton and Friday in Calgary before playing Sunday in Vancouver. The team will return Monday to South Florida but will hit the road again next week for Thursday’s game in Carolina before returning home for games at the BankAtlantic Center Dec. 21 against Colorado, Dec. 23 against Nashville and Dec. 26 against Tampa.
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