Douglas hockey team visits Panthers, lifts Cup

The Marjory Stoneman Douglas hockey team worked out at the Florida Panthers‘ arena on Monday and got a surprise — a chance to hoist the Stanley Cup.

Players from the varsity and junior varsity squads were practicing at the BB&T Center to get ready for their appearance at the 2018 Hockey High School National Championships in Wayzata, Minnesota, from March 22-25.

The arena was decorated for them, with the scoreboard showing the school’s mascot, an eagle, and banners celebrating “Stoneman Douglas state champions.”

Then the Stanley Cup came out, and the players got a chance to hold it aloft.

“Their jaws dropped,” Howie Borrow, one of the Keepers of the Cup who works with the NHL Hall of Fame, told the Miami Herald. “There was kind of a bit of disbelief. Really a thrilling moment for them to see it.”

On Feb. 25, Stoneman Douglas won the state championship of the Statewide Amateur Hockey of Florida league. Less than two weeks earlier, 17 people were killed in a mass shooting at Douglas, including 14 students. One of the victims was Jaime Guttenberg, the sister of junior varsity member Jesse Guttenberg.

After the championship game, the players returned to the school and placed their medals on memorials to those who were slain on Feb. 14.

“We’re pretty much fighting for the 17 who passed away,” senior Matthew Horowitz told reporters.

The players visited the BB&T Center on Sunday, too, as guests of Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere, who attended Stoneman Douglas for two years before moving to Connecticut to finish high school.

The Panthers are wearing MSD patches on their jerseys for the remainder of the season. On Feb. 22, their first game back in Florida after the shooting, goalie Roberto Luongo addressed the crowd and spoke of the students at Douglas, saying, “You guys are an inspiration to all of us. At the end of the day, you guys are what’s giving us hope for the future. Thank you.”

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