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2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs

Shayne Gostisbehere Back in South Florida – Trying to Beat the Panthers



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South Florida’s Shayne Gostisbehere, a defenseman with the Carolina Hurricanes, tangles with Florida forward Ryan Lomberg during the third period of Game 1 on Thursday night in Raleigh. (AP Photo/Karl B DeBlaker)

SUNRISE — In 2014, Shayne Gostisbehere made history in becoming the first player who was born-and-raised in South Florida to appear in an NHL game.

Tonight, the Carolina defenseman will be the first local product to play a postseason game in Sunrise and, naturally, it comes against the team he grew up rooting for.

Like many of his age who were raised on Florida Panthers hockey, he has memories of coming to games in Sunrise and pretty much having run of the place.

As Chase Priskie recalled when he became the first local to actually play for the Panthers, Gostisbehere fondly remembers the days of roaming a nearly empty arena as he and his friends turned the sprawling building into their personal funhouse.

“I have seen my fair share of games here, would come here when I was really little,” said Gostisbehere, who was born in Pembroke Pines, played for the Jr. Panthers among other youth teams and attended Stoneman Douglas High School before moving north to play at a prep school in Connecticut.

“My grandpa just said ‘don’t get in trouble’ and I would run around this whole place. It is a special building for myself. This is where I grew to love the game.

“I spend a lot of time here in the offseason to see family and stuff. It is cool to see this building has not changed very much. This has been a pretty cool experience.”

Gostisbehere, whose father Regis was a standout Jai Alai player at Dania, has played numerous games in Sunrise over the years as a member of the Flyers, Coyotes and Hurricanes.

In 2018, while with the Flyers, he invited the Douglas hockey team to the Panthers game in Sunrise and met with them following the tragic shooting at the school.

“It’s the least I could do,” Gostisbehere told at the time. “I’ve got to thank the Panthers for setting it up and the Flyers for going with it. It’s just something to take their mind off (things). They’ve had a rough past couple weeks here. Just (want to) get their minds off some things, have some laughs.”

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Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere, center, poses with the Stoneman Douglas hockey team following a 4-1 loss to his hometown Florida Panthers on March 4, 2018, in Sunrise. // Photo courtesy @NHL

Family and friends have attended the games as they will tonight for Game 3 only this one has a lot more weight to it than a Tuesday night in February.

This is a huge game for both teams as Florida comes into the night up 2-0 in the best-of-7 series.

The winner of this series moves on to the Stanley Cup Final.

The building will not be as Gostisbehere remembers it from his childhood days when his grandfather Denis Brodeur had season tickets and would just let him run around the place throughout the game.

“I hold them close to my heart,” Gostisbehere said after a morning skate in 2017. “I grew up with it. I’ve seen the empty seats. … They were all I knew growing up. It was a great organization. We had great ties with the Panthers. For us to practice at their practice rink. … We’d come here, watch games. It was awesome.

“The Panthers did a great job of growing hockey in Florida. It’s not a hockey state per se. but as the game grew they offered kids my age a chance to play it. All my best friends are still playing hockey. And I’m here. It’s cool. It’s very unique. People ask me where I’m from, whether I’m from Canada. And I say I’m from Florida and you get a look.”

The Panthers have had opportunities in the past to acquire Gostisbehere — he was picked in the third round of the 2012 draft out of Union College seven spots ahead of where Florida was picking — including when he was placed on waivers by the Flyers in 2021 during the Covid taxi squad days.

He ended up being traded to Arizona in 2021 where his game picked back up playing with fellow South Floridian Jakob Chychrun.

Like Chychrun, the Coyotes traded Gostisbehere at the deadline which is how he ended up with the Hurricanes.

He will be a free agent this summer.

“When I was little, they didn’t have the most competitive team but there were years they made the playoffs,” said Gostisbehere, who said Pavel Bure was his favorite player as a kid.

“Obviously there is a jolt in the building and you know when it’s the playoffs here. What they have done this year is pretty remarkable and it is pretty cool to see, a non-traditional market making a splash. There’s an appreciation for it.”


GAME 3 (Panthers Lead 2-0)

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