Why did NHL ice hockey fans throw a model rat on the ice?
FLA Live Center, home of the Florida Panthers, hosted Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Final (best-of-seven) of the North American Hockey League (NHL) playoffs on Feb. 25.
Tied 3-3 with 4.3 seconds left in the third period, Matthew Kachuk (26-USA) scored a goal for the Florida Panthers and the arena erupted in celebration. The game ended 4-3 in favor of the Panthers, and the home fans celebrated by throwing a mouse onto the ice.
A model rat, of course. Panthers fans toss model rats onto the rink after big wins, especially in the playoffs. The tradition began in the 1995-1996 season when a rat suddenly appeared in the Panthers’ locker room토토사이트, surprised players caught it, and the team made the playoffs for the first time that season. The Panthers, who were founded in 1993, made it all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals in 1996, but had to settle for runner-up honors after losing to the Colorado Avalanche in four games.
Florida Panthers players celebrate Matthew Kachuk’s game-winning goal. / USA Today
The Panthers advanced to the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time in 27 years, having defeated the Carolina Hurricanes 4-3 in a best-of-five series in 1996. It’s a remarkable accomplishment for the No. 8 seed. The Panthers finished the regular season with a 42-32-8 record (92 points), good for eighth place in the East and a playoff berth.
Their first-round playoff opponent is the Boston Bruins, who finished first in the regular season with a 65-12-5 record (135 points). They had the most wins and most points in NHL history. All the odds were in favor of the Bruins, but the Panthers defeated the Bruins in a thrilling seven-game series to advance to the Eastern Conference semifinals.
Panthers goalie Sergei Boboroski responds to the cheers of the home fans. Behind him are several model rats thrown onto the ice by fans. / USA Today
The Panthers’ momentum didn’t stop there. They defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs 4 games to 1 in the conference semifinals. The Panthers went on to sweep the series against the Carolina Hurricanes in the Eastern Conference Finals, never dropping a game.
The Vegas Golden Knights now hold a three-game lead over the Dallas Stars in the Western Conference Finals on the other side of the country, making it more likely that the Panthers and Golden Knights will meet in the Stanley Cup Finals. Both teams have never lifted the Stanley Cup before.