Marjorie Stoneman Douglas‘s hockey team received national notoriety last week after overcoming tremendous adversity while mourning the loss of their fellow students, teachers and coaches to win the State Hockey Championship.
On Monday, the Florida Panthers recognized their achievement in a very unique way, letting them practice on the ice at the BB&T Center and bringing in hockey's ultimate prize, the Stanley Cup, for the players to hoist.
"That's the last thing I was expecting, I was expecting maybe like Barkov or Bjugstad just to come on and skate with us, so that was the last thing I was expecting," senior Joey Zenobi said.
They’ll tell you it was hard to feel on top of the world after feeling the sanctity of their world crumble around them following the mass shooting at the school.
Yet, upset wasn’t just an emotion for the MSD Hockey team. They pulled off the upset as the last seed in the state tournament, overcoming the odds and the losses, the 17 Eagles players won 17 medals that they dedicated to the 17 victims.
As a tribute to the players, the Panthers played host, but the Cup was the real star.
"It was just unreal, they let us play around with it, lift it, brought it in the locker room," senior Matt Hauptman said. "It was just amazing, really special."
MSD Hockey’s state championship has opened the door to the National Championship tournament in Minnesota at the end of the month, and the Panthers wanted them to know they have their backs.
"There are no words to describe what those boys are feeling right now, it truly was a memorable experience that they will never forget," team manager Bonnie Hauptman said.
Soaring high, the Eagles had the chance to hold Hockey’s ultimate prize, as they honor those who paid the ultimate sacrifice.