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Puerto Rico trip a big success off-ice, too

by Staff Writer / New York Rangers

Thousands of young Puerto Rican fans got their first exposure to hockey when the Rangers faced the Panthers on Saturday.

The Rangers returned to New York on Sunday after a successful trip, both on and off the ice, to San Juan, Puerto Rico. The Blueshirts capped off a two-day excursion in the Caribbean with a historic win over the Florida Panthers at the Coliseo De Puerto Rico, in the first-ever NHL sanctioned hockey contest. The team was led by forward Petr Prucha, who scored twice to lead the team to a 3-2 victory.

Off the ice, the Rangers had the chance to touch the hearts of the San Juan community with a visit to the San Jorge Children's Hospital in the cancer ward. Rangers players Al Montoya, Nigel Dawes, Marc Staal, and Brandon Dubinsky spent part of the afternoon handing out Rangers t-shirts, pucks and keychains to children in the hospital.

Rangers goaltender Montoya, whose family is of Cuban heritage, explained, "I am thrilled to be down in the Caribbean bringing the sport of hockey to the people as well as bringing smiles to the face's of the kids at San Jorge hospital."

The Rangers players and staff then made a special trip to the world-famous Bacardi Rum plant, to take a private tour and have dinner. The evening was highlighted when Rangers defenseman Darius Kasparaitis nailed down an old-fashioned rum barrel, which drew the applause of teammates and staff.

The Blueshirts return to the Big Apple for a Monday night clash with the New York Islanders at Madison Square Garden.
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