SUNRISE (CBSMiami) – A memorable day on Monday for the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School hockey team.
The state champs got to practice at the BB&T Center in Sunrise thanks to the NHL’s Florida Panthers, who call that arena home.
There was also a big surprise planned for the student athletes.
The Panthers opened their rink to a hockey team a little younger than the pros that skate on the ice there almost every day.
The Stoneman Douglas boys varsity team still reeling from the shooting, is at an emotional crossroads.
They are remembering their classmates and teachers lost but also focused on the future as they are fresh off a win at the Florida state championships.
The Panthers along with the NHL hoped to bring some smiles to their faces with a very big and special piece of hardware.
The MSD varsity team captain had this to say about the experience, Matthew Hauptman: Varsity team captain
“It’s been ups and downs like crazy, like starting out the day being the worst day of my life to having some of the best days of my life,” said MSD varsity team captain Matthew Hauptman. “Winning the state championship, being treated like professional players, it’s incredible. Just holding the Stanley Cup is just bringing my roller coaster to a peak.”
Shawn Thornton, former Panthers player and current front office employee, brought out the Stanley Cup for the boys JV and Varsity team as they skated on the ice.
“I know the looks on their faces when I was skating out with it, you could just tell that we did the right thing there,” Thornton said.
But it’s not just the Stanley Cup that brought some major smiles to students faces.
It’s the support of the neighboring NHL team that has their backs that makes all the difference.
“Panthers have been awesome to us, it’s very special to go play at the BB&T Center and just to be around the Stanley Cup,” said MSD varsity player Joey Zenobi “It was very special for all of us, we really enjoyed it a lot.”
It’s an experience they will never forget and a piece of the story that will only make them stronger moving forward.
“It’s going to be something very special,” Hauptman said. “Just like playing the national championship itelf is special and then with the story that were coming with, it’s just going to make it even more special for our hometown and I’m just hoping we can bring back even more hardware.”
The boy’s varsity team will head to nationals March 22-26 in Minnesota. We wish them the best of luck.