Bring back the rat? Fans excited as Panthers playoff run continues

Fans pack a Sunrise sports bar ahead of the Florida Panthers game. (WPLG)

SUNRISE, Fla. – The consensus is: It’s time to bring back the rat.

It’s been almost 30 years since the Florida Panthers — fueled by plastic rat-throwing fans — made a run for the Stanley Cup. And old and new fans alike say the Cats are due another one.

Local 10 News spoke to fans ahead of Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals Monday, where the Panthers were leading 2-0 in the series.

“They look good. They look really good,” Panthers fan Jim Georges said. “They know how to check, they know how to play the game.”

Jose Ortiz, of Jose’s Uncle Al’s Sports Cafe, located off State Road 84 in Sunrise, said he expected a full house to watch the game.

Panthers memorabilia at Jose’s Uncle Al’s Sports Cafe in Sunrise. (WPLG)

“The way they’ve been, it’s hard to bet against them,” he said. “They’ve beat the best teams out there and they’re beating them convincingly and it looks like they’ve got a good shot.”

Ortiz said there are about a couple dozen monitors in his sports bar and said expect most, if not all of them to be tuned to Monday’s home-ice match-up between the Florida Panthers and the Carolina Hurricanes.

“We should be loud and raucous, hopefully,” he said.

And after two, hard-fought wins — one in quadruple overtime — the Zamboni-wagon is filling fast.

“It was actually busier for the Panthers game than it was for the Heat game, so we’ve been getting a large crowd,” Ortiz said. “(We) had the sound on for the game and the customers are definitely supporting them.”

With two wins away from a shot at the coveted Stanley Cup, fans are hoping the puck doesn’t stop here.

“God bless them and I hope they make it,” fan Gary Barnett said.

About the Author:

Layron Livingston made the move from Ohio's Miami Valley to Miami, Florida, to join the Local 10 News team.