Father, son from Texas among fans who traveled to see Panthers in Vegas for Stanley Cup Final

Panthers President praises fans for dedication shown in both Vegas and South Florida

LAS VEGAS – Monday night presents a big opportunity for the Florida Panthers and for the team’s fan base.

The players say they’re using Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final as a learning experience and moving forward, ready to play in Game 2.

Panthers fans have migrated to Las Vegas for the first two games and are ready to see their team bounce back after Saturday night’s series opening loss.

Local 10 News’ Ian Margol has been out west with the Panthers for several days now.

In his time in the desert, Margol has done his best to find as many Cats fans as possible, searching the Las Vegas strip, a place that sees nearly 40 million visitors a year, and even heading to the highest free-standing observation tower in the U.S. hoping to get a birds-eye view of some diehard fans.

But on Monday, all he had to do was walk out the front door of his hotel to find Panthers fan Jorge Cantu Jr. and his dad, Jorge Sr. who is a Vegas Golden Knights fan.

“I don’t know what I would be doing right now man, I still don’t feel like this is real,” said Cantu Jr. “It feels amazing to be able to be standing outside this stadium with the jersey on and my dad.”

The duo is from Texas and Cantu Jr. said his love for the Panthers actually stemmed from an early love of the Miami Dolphins.

“I was watching them one time and I was like you know, I’m going to be Dolphins fan,” Cantu Jr. explained. “And as I kept going, I started seeing all of the other teams, I started to be like you know what, I kind of like Miami. I just started following all of the teams.”

Cantu Sr. said the rivalry was an interesting one during Game 1, and that he was a bit conflicted.

“I love my son and I support him,” said Cantu. Sr. “We watch games together, like Game 1, and they score a goal and it’s like okay no biggie but we score a goal and it’s like uhhh, and he’s like ‘dad you can celebrate. It’s ok!’”

As for Game 2, Cantu Jr. will be watching from inside the arena while his dad will be at a watch party outside.

Believe it or not, both are pulling for the Cats.

“I feel like they’re going to go out there today and they’re going to kill it,” said Cantu Jr. “I feel like they needed me in the stadium.”

“I’m hoping that today things go his way because he’s living the dream,” said Cantu Sr. “He’s going to the game, he’s excited, I hope it goes well for them.”

Just before Game 2, Panthers President Matt Caldwell spoke with Margol at T-Mobile Arena about the fan support and what it means to the organization to see the number of people who traveled to Vegas to see them play in the Stanley Cup Final.

“To be here in Vegas, to be seeing the videos and the pictures of Pantherland and the fans going crazy in the bowl and then to see all of the fans who were here it was awesome,” he said. “I wish we would’ve given you guys a better result but hang in there it’s going to be, I think this is going to be a long series.”

According to the ticket marketplace Vivid Seats, Panthers fans could take up more about 13% of the arena on Monday. That’s about 2,300 seats.

The game starts at 8 p.m. ET or 5 p.m. local time in Vegas.

For those who couldn’t make the trip to the desert, the Panthers are hosting a watch party inside FLA Live Arena in Sunrise. For more information on that, click here.

About the Author:

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.