The offseason is a tough time form hockey fans. The weather is hot and there's little to no action happening on the ice. Fortunately, if you're a Florida Panthers fan, there are a few things happening to keep you involved with the hockey community while you wait for the Cats to hit the ice in October.
Puerto Rico Youth Hockey
If you don't mind the short plane ride from Miami to Puerto Rico you can go check out the Panthers' youth hockey clinic in Santure, Puerto Rico on August 16. The Cats are hosting the clinic in an effort to spread the love of the game to nontraditional markets. Defenseman Ed Jovanovski will be the main attraction at the event and he will be joined by the Panthers' goaltending coach Robb Tallas as well as former players Randy Moller and Bill Lindsay.
Early Bird Tournament
The Panthers are sponsoring a youth hockey tournament at the Saveology.com Iceplex in Coral Springs on August 24 to 26. The tournament is limited to players who are 18 years-old and younger but it's a good chance to catch a glimpse of the good hockey being played in South Florida. The Saveology.com Iceplex doesn't forget about the adults. They offer adult hockey clinics for all skill levels, including beginners because it's never too late to learn to play.
REDvolution Summer Tour
The REDvolution Summer Tour is a series of community events that the team has put on all summer long. You have to check out the Panther's website to figure out where they're going to be. The next stop is my personal favorite because it coincides with the first day of training camp on September 22 when the REDvolution tour will take the streets of downtown Fort Lauderdale from 2-5 p.m. at Huizenga Plaza. This is basically a big block party and will feature games, food trucks, games, and music. It's not a hockey game but at least you can connect with other hockey fans in South Florida.
The Panthers will kick off camp this year on September 22 at the Saveology.com Iceplex in Coral Springs. The best thing about practices at the Iceplex is they're free to the public. The downside is that they are subject to change with little or no notice so it's a good idea to go to the Iceplex's website and double-check. The first game of the new season will be on Saturday October 13 when the Cats will face off against division rivals, the Tampa Bay Lightning.
I'll admit none of these events are the same as the real thing. Hockey fans want to see hockey and there's no substitute for NHL level play. The great thing about offseason events is, they keep you in touch with other hockey fans, keep you thinking about the game, and keep you dreaming of next season.
More from this contributor:
Information on special events and dates from FloridaPanthers.com
Kristian Eberwein is a freelance journalist from Orlando, Florida. He was an English major at the University of Central Florida and has been a part of the Florida hockey community for the past twenty years. Follow him on Twitter @KrisEberwein
- Ice Hockey
- Sports & Recreation
- Puerto Rico