SUNRISE (CBSMiami) – The Florida Panthers don’t ever want to be in a situation where they don’t have a goalie again.
After losing both goalies to injury during a game against Toronto on March 3rd, the Panthers had goalie coach Robb Tallas put on his pads and prepare to enter the game.
Fortunately for the Panthers, Tallas’ services weren’t needed that night.
The unique situation gave the team an idea and shortly after the game the Panthers launched their Goal Of A Lifetime campaign, which would allow goalies the opportunity to have a real tryout at the BB&T Center.
Goalies from South Florida and across the country filled out an online application, hoping to be one of the select few to be chosen for the tryout.
Over 1,500 goalies applied from 42 states and 15 countries but just 65 were selected to participate.
All the lucky goaltenders were at the BB&T Center on Monday for their tryout, with Tallas overseeing the event and running all the drills.
“We’re going to test them,” said Tallas. “We’re going to work them hard. They have a great opportunity here.”
Even ESPN’s Linda Cohn, who played hockey in college, was on the ice for the tryout.
Several former Panthers players acted as shooters, including Radek Dvorak, Brian McCabe, Serge Payer, Marco Strum, Tomas Vokoun and Bill Lindsay. Current assistant coach John Madden was also taking shots on the goalies.
“Shoot hard. Why not? We’ll test them, it’s a legitimate tryout,” said Lindsay.
Not to be left out, a few current Panthers players skated out and took a close-up look at the competition. Brandon Pirri, Jimmy Hayes and Shawn Thornton were even seen taking a few shots.
After Tallas had a chance to evaluate all 65 tryout participants, two were selected for the final test before a winner can be chosen.
The two finalists, Dustin Smith and Bill Ruggerio, will compete in a shootout-style challenge that will take place during the first intermission of the Panthers game against Montreal on Tuesday.
The lucky winner will have the opportunity to dress with the entire Panthers team and skate with them during an actual NHL practice. They’ll also be featured in a video segment that will air during a future Panthers game, along with a few other goodies as well.
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