The Panthers announced this week that they’ll face the Dallas Stars in a neutral-site preseason game on October 2nd at the Budweiser Gardens in London, Ontario. The game’s location was previously labeled as “to be announced,” although the Panthers had been listed as the home team.
For the Panthers, this will be the third time neutral-site since the 2013-14 season when they played at AT&T Center in San Antonio and Germain Arena in Estero, Florida. The Panthers will also face the Devils this preseason at West Point’s Tate Rink on October 8th. The last time the Panthers participated in a preseason game outside of the United States was during the 2009-10 preseason when they faced both Tappara and Jokerit in Finland in addition to the Senators in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
Budweiser Gardens serves as the home of the OHL’s London Knights, a place Aaron Ekblad knows very well. Ekblad’s junior team, the Barrie Colts, lost game 7 of the OHL Championship in 2013 to the Knights in that very arena. Vincent Trocheck, then a member of the Plymouth Whalers, also played against the Knights at Budweiser Gardens in the Western Conference Finals that same year, while Panthers GM Tom Rowe was a member of the London Knights from 1973 to 1976 where he performed at a point-per-game pace over 193 games.
“It’ll be a special chance at redemption to win again in this building after a tough loss quite a few years ago,” joked Ekblad during Monday’s press conference at the Budweiser Gardens to make the preseason game official.
“It’s pretty awesome…I remember when I was playing in Barrie we had Ottawa and the Islanders in our building and I got to drop the puck. It’s kind of inspiring to watch guys like John Tavares and […] Matt Puempel play in the NHL preseason game.”
The game on October 2nd will be the 12th time that Budweiser Gardens has served as the host for an NHL preseason game with the most recent one being in 2014 between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Philadelphia Flyers.
The Panthers are 2-3-3 in 8 preseason games against the Dallas Stars since the 2011-12 preseason. Florida lost 6 straight to the Stars before winning both preseason games last season.