Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Panthers Beat Hurricanes

The Florida Panthers continued their trip on the road in Raleigh and defeated the Carolina Hurricanes 3-1 at the RBC Center on Tuesday night. It was the debut of former Panther Kirk Muller as head coach of the Hurricanes. The game was scoreless after one period. Florida picked up a power-play goal at 10:45 of the second period. Stephen Weiss won a left circle face-off that went back to Brian Campbell at the top of the zone. He put a pass to the left point to Tomas Fleischmann, who skated to the top left circle and blasted a slapshot past Cam Ward that hit the right post and went in. Fleischmann picked up his 11th goal this season. Carolina tied the game just one minute later. Eric Staal placed a pass into the slot area where Jeff Skinner scored on his follow-up shot, his tenth this season, in the crease area. The Panthers had their opportunities in the third period. Jack Skille was taken down from behind on a breakaway by Joni Pitkanen at 7:51 and was rewarded a penalty shot. He skated up the middle and fired a wrist shot that was stopped by Ward's glove. They also had a two-on-one breakaway while shorthanded at 12:00, however Sean Bergenheim had his left wing shot blocked by Ward. Shawn Matthias scored from the right side of the net with 3:19 left after Tomas Kopecky stopped a clearing pass on the right side wall and passed it ahead. Several minutes later, Matthias skated through the neutral zone and put in an open-net goal with 49 seconds remaining for his second of the night and fifth this year. With the win the Panthers extended their Southeast Division lead over the Washington Capitals by five points. Florida heads across the country to take on the Los Angeles Kings and San Jose Sharks later this week.

Former Panther Muller Named Carolina Coach

One-time former Florida Panthers center Kirk Muller was named the new head coach for the Carolina Hurricanes on Monday. For the last several months he had been the head coach of the Nashville Predators AHL affiliate in Milwaukee. Muller was an assistant coach with the Montreal Canadiens for five seasons until this spring. He played for 19 seasons in the NHL which included winning the Stanley Cup with the Canadiens in 1992-93. Muller, known as Captain Kirk while with the New Jersey Devils, was part of the Florida Panthers when he was picked up in a late-season trade from the Toronto Maple Leafs during the 1996-97 season and stayed until 1998-99. Although he had 13 goals and 47 points in 162 regular season games with the Panthers, he played well in the 1996-97 first-round playoff series against the New York Rangers scoring one goal and three points in five games.

Guy Rawlings Moves To Atlanta

Former WTVJ-TV sports anchor and sports reporter Guy Rawlings has joined WGCL-TV in Atlanta as a news anchor and will begin there in January. He has been a sports anchor at WESH-TV in Orlando since 2007. Prior to that, he was part of the sports crew at Channel 6 in Miami with Craig Minervini and Joe Rose for nine years. He's also had previous sportscasting stints in Baltimore, Charleston, Jacksonville and Gainesville.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Panthers Announcers Receive Contract Extensions

The Florida Panthers announced on Wednesday that they have extended the contracts of all their announcers to long-term deals. The Panthers broadcasters are television play-by-play announcer Steve Goldstein, television game analyst Bill Lindsay and radio play-by-play announcer Randy Moller. Goldstein, who has the longest tenure of the three, has been the television voice of the team since the 2007-08 season. He joined the team as the radio studio host in 1996-97 and had that role until 2003-04. Goldstein was promoted to radio play-by-play announcer prior to the lockout in 2004-05 where he stayed for two NHL seasons. Moller began with Florida in 1996-97 as radio game analyst. He was upped to the radio play-by-play role when Goldstein switched to television in 2007-08. Moller is currently in his fifth season as the radio voice of the team. Lindsay, a former Panthers left wing, was named a radio game analyst in 2007-08. He remained in that spot for two seasons until he moved to television as a game analyst.

Panthers Edge Rangers

The Florida Panthers continued their four-game homestand at the Bank Atlantic Center and got by the New York Rangers 2-1 on Wednesday night. The Panthers had a barrage of shots at the 6:30 mark of the first period as Tomas Fleischmann missed an open net from the right of the crease and Jason Garrison hit the right post on his shot from the right point. Florida was able to score on their first power play at 10:06. Fleischmann carried the puck through the right circle, backhanded to Brian Campbell on the left point who passed across to Garrison for a slapshot that went over the left shoulder of Hendrik Lundqvist. Florida continued to roll early in the second period as Fleischmann went around Artem Anisimov in the low rignt circle, backhanded a pass up to Kris Versteeg for a one-timer at 1:09. Versteeg now leads the Panthers with 12 goals this season. New York responded and cut the lead to 2-1 at 4:18 when Marian Gaborik passed across the high slot to Derek Stepan who took a wrist shot from the left face-off circle that beat Jose Theodore to the stick side. Neither team scored in the third period in which Lundqvist kept the game Rangers in the game as he made 36 saves. Florida extended their win streak to three games and host the Tampa Bay Lightning on Friday.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Panthers Pull Off Three-Goal Comeback

Tomas Fleishmann got the winning goal from a right-corner feed by Stephen Weiss with 2:03 left in the game to cap off a three-goal comeback as the first-place Florida Panthers shocked the New Jersey Devils 4-3 Monday night at the Bank Atlantic Center. Florida failed with a five-on-three power play early in the first period, then the Devils followed with three goals in just over three minutes. Ilya Kovalchuk scored the first goal at 8:17 as he dropped a pass at the top of the Panthers zone to Henrik Tallinder, who put a shot on net, then Kovalchuk followed up in the crease with the rebound. Petr Sykora roofed in a backhand shot from the right edge of the crease at 9:26 after a slapshot from Adam Larson from the right point. Later on, a lead pass by Martin Brodeur went to Patrick Elias center ice. He skated through on a two-on-one breakaway, faked a shot and passed across to Dainius Zubrus who put a forehand into the open net from the right circle at 11:49. The second period went for Florida after they killed off a Devils power play. Dmitry Kulikov skated the puck through the right circle and placed it in the low slot off Weiss skate. Kris Versteeg pounced on the loose puck for the goal at 5:28. The Panthers pulled within one goal at 10:40 as Jason Garrison stopped the puck on the left point when the Devils tried to clear zone. His shot was stopped in front by traffic where Versteeg finished the play off with a wrist shot from the right of the crease. The Panthers tied the game in the third period as Weiss put in a shorthanded goal on a four-on-three situation with a wrist shot over Brodeur's left shoulder after a give-and-go play from Garrison. In a surprising piece of news, Florida came back from three goals down for only their second time in their 18-season franchise history. The Panthers host the New York Rangers on Wednesday.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Panthers Take Down Penguins

The Florida Panthers returned to the Bank Atlantic Center beginning a four-game homestand on Saturday night and beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-2. The Panthers now stand alone in first place in the Southeast Division with 23 points. The Penguins were without Sidney Crosby, however they jumped on the lead early. Chris Kunitz won a face-off in the neutral zone, then Pascal Dupris brought the puck across the Panthers line. His shot was redirected by Kunitz on net and followed through on his rebound shot at 1:09. Florida tied the game at 7:28 on a nifty play where Stephen Weiss dropped a pass on the right-wing wall to Kris Versteeg. He then passed into the slot area to Brian Campbell who skated into the crease and went around Brent Johnson finishing with a backhand shot. In the second period, the Panthers took the lead on a power play goal at 5:48 as Tomas Fleischmann picked up a loose puck in the high slot area for his eighth goal of the season. Pittsburgh tied it at 12:38 when Jordan Staal scored his tenth goal this season as he followed up a left circle shot by Dupuis in the crease area and waited for Jose Theodore to be out of position. The Penguins were called for a bench minor with too many men on the ice at 15:55 and the Panthers capitalized on the power play. Versteeg's shot front the left edge of the crease was saved by Johnson, however Weiss placed a soft shot from the top of the paint that hit the right post. With the backward momentum of Johnson falling down, his body pushed the puck across the goal line at 16:30. The Panthers play their next game on Monday night against Martin Brodeur and the New Jersey Devils.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Dwyer Eliminates Blanche Ely

It was a battle between two high schools that have consistently appeared in the postseason for the past decade, Dwyer and Blanche Ely. In this Class 7A regional quarterfinal game, it seemed to be no contest as the Dwyer Panthers shut down the Blanche Ely Tigers 28-0 at Blum Stadium in Palm Beach Gardens on Friday night. The Tigers began the first quarter sluggish just like they have for most of their games this season. The Panthers dominated scoring 21 points within the first 12 minutes. On a fourth-and-13 from the Tigers 36, Faton Bauta found Clinton Stephens on the right side and he broke one tackle at the 15 to score at 6:46. Ely started their first possession badly on the third play of the drive as Julian Whigham intercepted a pass from Darrien Allen in the middle of the field and returned it 31 yards down the left sideline for a touchdown making it 14-0 at 5:30. Bauta added to the score with a one-yard run on Dwyer's next possession with 0:26 left in the first quarter. Neither team got any points in the second quarter. The Tigers were unable to come back in the second half as they have numerous times in 2011. The Panthers increased their lead to 28-0 as Bauta connected with Malik Brown on a seven-yard pass with 7:17 remaining in the third quarter. Dwyer will host the Northeast Hurricanes of Oakland Park next Friday night in a regional semifinal game.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Blues Bounce Panthers

It was a game where both teams capitalized on turnovers in the defensive zone as the St. Louis Blues beat the Florida Panthers 4-1 on Thursday night. The Blues struck first as David Backes scored an unassisted goal at 6:04. Mike Santorelli tied the game seven minutes later with his own unassisted goal as he made a turnaround shot from the left face-off circle into the top shelf of the cage following a Blues turnover. At 5:48 of the second period, Chris Porter slapped a loose puck from the right circle and St. Louis regained the lead 2-1, again on an unassisted goal. Midway through the third period, the Blues were able to create a two-on-one breakaway when Ed Jovanovski pinched in from the left point. Vladimir Sobotka skated the puck all the way into the Panthers zone and placed a backhand pass from the right circle onto the stick of Kris Russell for a tip-in goal at 9:46. Backes finished things off with his second goal of the game and sixth goal this season with 1:50 left. The Panthers return home to take on the Pittsburgh Penguins Saturday night and begin a four-game homestand. The Penguins will make a game-time decision if Sidney Crosby will return to the lineup and play his first game this season.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Panthers Blast Stars

Scott Clemmensen made 25 saves as he led the Florida Panthers to a shutout win over the Dallas Stars 6-0 at the American Airlines Center on Tuesday night. For Clemmensen, who was called up from the minors several days ago, it was his seventh career shutout. With the win Florida is now tied with the Washington Capitals for first place of the Southeast Division at 21 points. Tomas Kopecky backhanded a pass from the right side to Dmitry Kulikov and he fired a shot from the slot area at 16:44 for a 1-0 lead. Jason Garrison nailed a top zone shot for a goal from Mike Santorelli just one minute later and now leads all NHL defensemen with seven goals this season. At 15:02 of the second period, Tomas Fleischmann kept things going with a left circle shot that was placed in the top right corner of the net. All five Panther players on the ice touched the puck which lead to a Stephen Weiss goal with eight seconds remaining in the period. Weiss also moved to second all-time for Florida in games played with 574 passing Robert Svehla. Kris Versteeg added to the blowout with his ninth of the season at 10:00 followed by Evgeny Dadonov putting one in off his own skate from a lead pass at 13:19. The Panthers improved their road record to 7-3 and head for St. Louis to take on the Blues Thursday night.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Nieuwendyk And Belfour Enter Hockey Hall Of Fame

Two former Florida Panthers were inducted into the Hockey Hall Of Fame in Toronto on Monday night, center Joe Nieuwendyk and goalie Ed Belfour. Both players joined the Panthers at the end of their illustrious NHL careers. They were teammates with Florida in 2006-07. Following the NHL lockout of 2004-05, Nieuwendyk joined the Panthers and played for two seasons then became part of their hockey operations for two years. He won three Stanley Cups with three different teams(Calgary, Dallas and New Jersey) in his 20-year career scoring 564 goals and 562 assists. Nieuwendyk is currently in his third season as general manager of the Dallas Stars. Belfour was in net with the Panthers for only one season. He garnered 484 wins, third all-time, and 76 shutouts in his 18-year career that included a Stanley Cup title with Dallas in 1998-99.

Flyers Outbattle Panthers

The Florida Panthers returned from Canada for a one-game stop at home and lost to the Philadelphia Flyers 3-2 at the Bank Atlantic Center on Sunday. The Panthers and the Flyers entered the game with the same record after 15 games at 8-4-3. Both teams had good scoring opportunities on two power plays each in the first period. The Flyers took the lead at 16:10 as Danny Briere(5) followed up a rebound shot with a backhand from the right of the crease that hit the crossbar before going in. Philadelphia increased their lead 6:50 into the second period as an unlikely player scored. Braydon Coburn put in his first of the season, his first tally in 40 games, as he finished up a give-and-go play with Jakub Voracek in the Panthers zone. Florida stepped up just three minutes later as Evgeny Dadonov, playing in his first NHL game this season after being called up from the minors, received a pass from Ed Jovanovski and fired a shot from the slot area. Following a Maxime Talbot four minute double minor penalty for high sticking at 3:13 of the third period, the Flyers were rewarded a penalty shot while shorthanded as Jason Garrison tripped Matt Read(4) as he headed through the slot on a breakaway. Read was able to squeeze the penalty shot through the pads of Jose Theodore who was in the butterfly position at 4:14. It was a little too late for Florida as they pulled the goalie and closed the gap to 3-2 with eight seconds remaining in the game. Tomas Fleishmann, his sixth goal this season, was able to rip a shot from the inner edge of the left circle on an assist by Tomas Kopecky. The Panthers head out of town for their next two games as they travel to Dallas and St. Louis facing those teams for the only time this season.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Florida Marlins Renamed Miami Marlins

The Florida Marlins baseball franchise officially changed their name to the Miami Marlins on Friday. The date 11-11-11 has numerical significance to some people in society, but it will be known throughout South Florida as the day the Marlins renamed their organization. The organization will be wearing new uniforms and caps starting in the 2012 season. Fans knew when the change would happen at the Marlins final home game in 2011 when team owner Jeffrey Loria and former manager Jack McKeon ripped down the last panel of the games remaining sign on the left field wall at Sun Life Stadium. It revealed Miami Marlins 11.11.11 in a black box. The main reason for the name change was that if the city of Miami would build a new stadium for the team, then the team would implement Miami and eliminate Florida from the franchise name. A baseball stadium has almost been completely done where the Orange Bowl once stood in Little Havana. The facility will be open by the first week of April. The Marlins will face the defending World Series champion St. Louis Cardinals opening day on April 4. The team had been known as the Florida Marlins after original owner Wayne Huizenga and South Florida was rewarded an expansion franchise by Major League Baseball in June 1991. The Marlins had played all their home games in Miami Springs since April 1993. The original team logo and cap design are history. There were minor league teams named the Miami Marlins previously. The Philadelphia Phillies and the Baltimore Orioles had a Florida State League affiliate with the same name from 1962-1970 and 1982-1988 that played at Bobby Maduro Miami Stadium.

Boca Raton Pounds Olympic Heights

The Boca Raton Bobcats dominated their crosstown rival and defeated the Olympic Heights Lions 39-6 on Thursday night at Corey Lewis Stadium. The Bobcats jumped out to a quick 7-0 lead on a 28-yard catch by Ron Moore from Kevin Anderson just five minutes into the game. On their next possession, Blake Wilson converted on a 43-yard field goal to increase the Bobcats lead 54 seconds into the second quarter. The Lions responded as Diegaulle Sama returned the ensuing kickoff 94 yards for a touchdown, however he was called for a taunting penalty several yards before entering the end zone. Olympic Heights(3-7) missed the 35-yard extra point and were down 10-6. This turned out to be the closest the Lions came to take the lead. Boca Raton(3-7) added two touchdowns prior to the end of the first half which was the start of 29 unanswered points. Davin Daley scored on an 11-yard touchdown run at 7:33, then in his final high school game, top college prospect Keith Byars II caught a 45-yard screen pass with 3:34 remaining in the first half to make it 24-6. The Bobcats put in their second team unit to begin the third quarter. They did not disappoint outscoring the Lions 10-0 in the third. With 7:53 left in the game, the Bobcats picked up a safety on a bad punt snap beyond the back of the end zone. Wilson capped things off with a 27-yard field goal at 3:57.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Boyd Anderson Forfeits District Title

Following at internal investigation of using three ineligible players for the first seven games this season, Boyd Anderson forfeited the District 14-7A title on Monday. The Cobras record will drop from 8-1 to 2-7. The Northeast Hurricanes(6-3, 5-0) were promoted from district runner-up to district champion while the Blanche Ely Tigers(7-2, 4-1) moved up from third place to district runner-up. Both teams will be involved in the Class 7A playoffs in less than two weeks. Northeast will host Royal Palm Beach while the Tigers travel to Palm Beach County and face William T. Dwyer. The Hurricanes won a 6A district title in the FHSAA highest classification last year, their first district championship of any kind since the 1980's. Blanche Ely has been a consistent playoff team over the past decade.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Panthers Blow Three Goal Lead

The Florida Panthers finished up a three-game homestand on Sunday and were defeated by the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-3 in a shootout at the Bank Atlantic Center. The Panthers had won both previous meetings this season which involved both teams playing their home openers. Following a Vincent Lecavalier hooking penalty one minute into the game, Florida scored on their first power play at 1:49. Kris Versteeg passed from the right corner to Brian Campbell who then wristed a shot from the high slot over Mathieu Garon's left shoulder for his first goal as a Panther. The team added to the lead at 13:05 on a breakout play from of the defensive zone which led to a two-on-one. Jack Skille skated with the puck through center ice into the Lightning zone then backhanded a pass across to Tomas Kopecky(2) who finished the play with a top right circle shot. Garon was pulled from the game for Dwayne Roloson after he gave up a wrist shot goal from the left circle by Mike Santorelli, his first goal this season, at 15:21. The Lightning came back in the second period with a Ryan Malone(4) power play goal at 16:20 followed by Steven Stamkos with his tenth goal this season, tied for the NHL lead, at 17:46. Tampa Bay finished off being three goals down at 8:11 of the third as Steve Downie put in a rebound shot in the lower crease area for his second this year. Former Panther Dominic Moore was the only player to convert in the shootout. He was fourth up during the session for his team. Florida travels to Toronto and Winnipeg later this week.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Allison Williams Joins ESPN

Florida Panthers and Florida Marlins sideline reporter/studio host Allison Williams will join ESPN as a college basketball sideline reporter for ACC Sunday evening games beginning in January. Joining her as play-by-play announcer for those broadcasts will be Jon Sciambi, former WQAM sports talk host, WAXY sports talk host and Florida Marlins radio play-by-play announcer. She has worked at Fox Sports Florida for three years sharing duties for the two local sports teams along with Craig Minervini and Frank Forte. In addition, Williams has done college football sideline reporting and once hosted a college football tailgate show on Comcast Sports Southeast.

American Heritage-Delray Coasts To Victory

The American Heritage-Delray Stallions played their final district game in 2011 and had no problems as they came away with a 28-0 shutout win over Calvary Christian. They had already clinched District 7-3A prior to this game in Fort Lauderdale. American Heritage(7-1, 6-0) dominated the game with great field positioning and were ahead 14-0 at halftime. Following an Eagles punt to begin the second half, the Stallions scored on their first possession at 9:02 as Nick Lasalla rumbled in from one yard out making it 21-0. Calvary Christian(3-6, 2-4) and quarterback Javan Shashaty were unable to come close to a scoring opportunity throughout the game getting to the Stallions 30-yard only once. Midway through the fourth quarter, Jhavon Williams intercepted a Shashaty pass and returned it 46 yards to the Eagles one-yard line. On the following play, Jeremy Gaskins scored on a run to increase the rout 28-0. The Stallions will have a first round game at The Corral to open the playoffs in two weeks. The Eagles finished their first season in a new football facility, playing daytime games in 2011, and will have home games at night next season.

Cooper City Takes District Over Aquinas

St. Thomas Aquinas was looking for another district title, however they were shocked and lost the District 15-7A crown to Cooper City 21-16 at Brian Piccolo Stadium on Friday night. As the district champion, the Cowboys will host a first round playoff game against Miami Beach while the Raiders, district runner-up, won't play a home playoff game for the first time since 1996. Cooper City(9-0, 5-0) had not beaten St. Thomas Aquinas(7-2, 4-1) since 1972. Both teams met in the Class 5A regional semifinal in 2010 where the Raiders handled the Cowboys 49-7. Midway through the first quarter, Gavin Sinclair returned a punt 51 yards to the Cowboys 22. Nolan Bieck kicked a 36-yard field goal three plays later with 4:23 left. Momentum changed with eight minutes remaining in the first half. Bieck had a 43-yard field goal blocked at the line of scrimmage by Justin Ingram, then Camden Krohn picked up the loose ball at his own two-yard line, found a wall of blockers in front of him and ran down the sideline for a 98-yard touchdown and a 7-3 lead. Aquinas responded on their next possession as Fred Coppet capped the drive with a seven-yard run with 4:00 left to regain the lead 10-7. Cooper City commanded the third quarter scoring off two St. Thomas Aquinas turnovers. Tyson Burch intercepted a pass and returned it 26 yards to the Raiders 5. Krohn went up the middle for the score one play later at 2:13. Max Lescano fumbled on a pitch play on the Raiders next drive and Jordan Mornay took the ball back ten yards for a score and a Cowboys 21-10 lead. Lescano was replaced by John O'Korn, but the Raiders were only able to garner one touchdown in the final 13 minutes of the game. Mark Barr caught an eight-yard pass with 2:31 to go in the fourth quarter, but the two-point conversion was no good. St. Thomas Aquinas lost their second home game this season, something they have not done in over 15 years. The Raiders open up the postseason at American High School of Miami in two weeks.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Hawks Edge Panthers In Shootout

The Chicago Blackhawks made their yearly appearance in South Florida and defeated the Florida Panthers 3-2 on Thursday night at the Bank Atlantic Center. Current Panthers general manager Dale Tallon was once associated with the Hawks as a player, broadcaster and general manager. Heading into the game, Florida's 6-4-1 record to start the season was their best start through 11 games since they had the same record back in the 2005-06 season. Chicago began strong with a goal 4:04 into the game as Jonathan Toews redirected a pass across the crease from Andrew Brunette. Florida outshot their opponent 15-7 in the first period. Panthers goalie Jacob Markstrom robbed Patrick Sharp on two point-blank shots in the low slot, one in the first and one in the second. In the second period, the Blackhawks increased their lead to 2-0 as Patrick Kane passed the puck through the left circle for a one-timer slap shot from Marian Hossa from the low right circle at 4:51. The Panthers closed the gap at 18:19 as Tomas Fleischmann dropped a pass at the top of zone to Kris Versteeg. He then gave a lead pass to Stephen Weiss in the slot area where he pounced on his intial shot for his fifth goal this season. The Panthers tied the game at 17:56 of the third by an unlikely scorer, Ed Jovanovski. Sean O'Donnell tried to clear the puck out of the Blackhawks zone on a save by Corey Crawford. Dmitry Kulikov stopped it at the right point, took a shot and Jovanovski deflected the puck from the inner right circle. The Panthers had a 14-5 shot advantage in the third. Neither team scored in overtime, although Chicago had six shots in the extra session. The Blackhawks got the only goal in the shootout on their third attempt as Kane went 5-hole with a backhand shot for the win. The Panthers have three days off until they host Tampa Bay on Sunday afternoon while the Blackhawks travel to face the Lightning tomorrow night.