Florida Panthers release new merchandise ahead of first Stanley Cup Final since 1996

SUNRISE, Fla. – Florida Panthers fans were flocking to FLA Live Arena Thursday morning to purchase brand-new Eastern Conference Championship merchandise.

The Panthers completed the sweep of the Carolina Hurricanes Wednesday night to advance to the Stanley Cup Final, their first appearance since 1996.

With 57 seconds remaining in the third period and the game tied at 3-3, Panthers winger Matthew Tkachuk saw an opportunity to end the game after a Carolina Hurricanes tripping penalty and scored the game-winning goal.

Local 10 News spoke with Panthers forward Nick Cousins who said the team has enjoyed the energy when playing at home during this historic playoff run.

“It was nice to do it on home ice too--give our fans a bit of a treat,” said Cousins. “The last two series we won on the road. It was a fun building for sure. The fans were energetic-- very into it.”

“It was good. That connection between the players and the fans is so important,” said Panthers Head Coach Paul Maurice.

Local 10 News also spoke with fans that arrived at the arena well before the doors opened at 11 a.m. on Thursday.

“I was here in ‘96 so I’ve been waiting a long time for this to happen,” said Panthers fan Brian Aguanno. “I’ve been a season ticket holder for the last eight years and yeah, let’s go, let’s get it done this time.”

Dariel Castro told Local 10 News how much the team’s win meant to the South Florida community.

“Means a lot to the South Florida community in general. Just the fact that they’ve been the underdog. They’ve come from behind (and) they’ve beaten all of the odds--they’re here,” he said.

Panthers fan Michelle Miller said that she’s been a fan for over twenty years and has made the team a part of her family.

“I think about 2002, I went to my first game here and I was hooked. I have three kids (and) I took them to all of the games. I took their friends to all of the games--my nieces and nephews, so we’re all big Panthers fans,” she said.

Panthers Forward Sam Reinhart told Local 10 News that the team is trying to stay humble after being only four wins away from winning the Stanley Cup.

“This is the time of year you dream of playing so, we’re soaking it in, enjoying every moment and taking it one day at a time,” he said.

Those interested in Stanley Cup Final single-game tickets are encouraged to sign up for the Panthers 93 Society email newsletter by clicking here for early, presale access.

Eastern Conference Champions exclusive merchandise, meanwhile, is available now at Pantherland and FLATeamShop.com.

Pantherland will be open during special hours for fans to gear up ahead of the Stanley Cup Final.

Pantherland hours are:

1. Thursday, May 25, 11 AM- 7 PM

2. Friday, May 26, 12 PM- 6 PM

3. Saturday, May 27, 11 AM- 6 PM

4. Sunday, May 28, 12 PM- 4 PM

About the Authors:

Ryan Mackey is our newest digital journalist at WPLG. He is New York born and South Florida raised.

Ian Margol joined the Local 10 News team in July 2016 as a general assignment reporter. Born in Miami Beach and raised in Broward County, Ian is thrilled to be back home in South Florida.