The Florida Panthers played host to this year’s All-Star Weekend here in Sunrise, Fl. The events were split between FLA Live Arena and the beach, with a spattering of events taking place in other venues locally. Highlights included the All-Star Beach Festival, the Alumni Game, the Mascot Breakfast, and of course, the main events: The Skills Competition and the All-Star Games.
The Beach Festival was home to player signings, the Splash Shot event for the Skills Competition, a tent with The Stanley Cup, a plethora of mascots, a red carpet event, a hockey hall of fame, plenty of games to test your own hockey skills, and more. Fans enjoyed the beautiful weather and gorgeous beach views while surrounded by all things hockey. The festival ran from Thursday, February 2 to Saturday, February 4.
The Skills Competition took place on Friday night at FLA Live arena, with a bit of pre-recorded fun thrown in for some of the outdoor skills. Skills included the hardest shot (won by Elias Pettersson), the fastest skater (won by Andrei Svechnikov) Splash Shot (won by Cale Makar and Mikko Rantanen), the Breakaway Challenge (won by* the trio performance of Sidney Crosby, Alex Ovechkin and 4-year-old Sergei Ovechkin), a new challenge called Tendy Tandem that left most viewers a little confused (won by Juuse Saros and Connor Hellebuyck), Pitch n’ Puck (won by Nick Suzuki) and the Accuracy Shooting (won by Brock Nelson).
In the All-Star Games, The Atlantic Division came away with the championship title, and our very own Matthew Tkachuk earned the MVP, scoring 4 goals and tallying 3 assists. It was a great win for the Atlantic, especially considering we were the host team/division. For those unaware, the All Star games are played as 2 10-minute halves in a 3-on-3 format. This allows for more open ice, and opportunity for the All-Star players to shine.
All in all, the All-Star Weekend here in South Florida was a success, and provided a fun way for fans of the sport to enjoy and immerse themselves in the things they love.
*Author’s Note: The Breakaway challenge should have been won by Matthew Tkachuk, for several reasons. He was the ‘hometown hero’ and it’s tradition, his breakaway included Pathers Captain Sasha Barkov dressed as a lifeguard, Hall of Fame Goalie Roberto Luongo donning shades and a pool noodle, Miami Dolphins Captain Christian Wilkins, and his brother Brady Tkachuk as the ultimate beach bum. He dribbled the puck all the way down the ice, tossed it into his bucket hat, and sent it home. He only lost because some random judge went rogue and gave him a 2/10. He was robbed. Crosby and the Ovechkin’s were adorable of course, but Matty should have won.