Ice Cats Playoffs

Sunrise, FL – The Florida Panthers hosted the Tampa Bay Lightning, Monday night, in the regular-season final. And with home ice in the playoffs on the line, the Ice Cats didn’t disappoint. It was all Panthers from the jump as they would go on to dominate Tampa in every facet of the game. Florida closed out an already impressive regular season with a 4-0 drubbing of the defending champions.

It was a positive start for the Ice Cats with the offense coming out firing. However, the momentum would soon be lost thanks to a phantom high sticking call on Carter Verhaeghe. The penalty kill team was up to the task and kept things even early on.

Put Them On Ice, Cats…

It would be Florida to strike first again, this time with 4 minutes left to play in the first. It was the MacKenzie Weegar show as he forced a turnover at the Panther blue line. He then followed the play, eventually swooping in to take possession and fired home a blazing wrist shot from distance past the stick of Andrei Vasilevskiy.

The Lightning came close to kicking off the 2nd period with a goal after catching the Ice Cats on the break and created a wide-open chance, but Chris Driedger was able to get across his goal in time to stop a sure-fire equalizer.

The Ice Cats would double their lead with a short-handed goal with the clock reading 11:32. Vasilevskiy came out of his goal to pick up a loose puck but didn’t see Juho Lammikko. The center beat the keeper to it and was able to sneak it in with a wraparound.

It was déjà vu as the 2nd period was filled with dirty plays from Tampa but it would be the Panthers continually hit with soft or phantom calls, but the penalty kill was sharp and kept the clean sheet alive.

The ruthless Ice Cats pushed the lead to 3-0 just three minutes into the 3rd period. Carter Verhaeghe picked up a loose puck in the neutral zone and went on a solo mission, freezing the defense with a fake pass before beating Vasilevskiy stick side from the right faceoff circle.

Florida continued to beat Tampa into submission with a fourth goal courtesy of an excellent slap shot from Radko “The Butcher” Gudas that was stuffed home by the hot hand of Alex Wennberg.

With the 4-0 win the Panthers locked in the No. 2 spot in the Central Division. The Ice Cats also secured home ice in the upcoming 1st round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs match series with these same Tampa Bay Lightning.

The Duke’s Outstanding Gentleman of the Game

1. Chris Driedger: 30 saves | Clean Sheet
2. Ice Cats Penalty Kill: 5/5
3. Juho Lamikko: 1g, 1a, Shorthanded Goal

Photo by Joel Auerbach

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