I blew through the overseas exhibitions. Here’s the first, brief accounts of the Fake Future Panthers in game action. And you know, I may have a keeper in that kid Sanipass. It’s early… it’s early. I’m gonna post this and then work on some of the non-game stuff while I run the in-league exhibition schedule: six games.
PS – I know I’m supposed to be less hockey over here, and more over at Lighthouse Hockey. To me, though, this isn’t really about hockey. It’s a work of fiction, with hockey as a medium; but it’s the people who count. The game’s the thing wherein we catch the conscience of the king.
SEPTEMBER 1-14, 2021
When the games begin in earnest, McGill leans heavily on the youngsters. The overseas fans naturally want to see the NHL stars, but neither do they want to see their own clubs crushed. McGill’s compromise is to play primarily those of his players who come from those countries. Ondra Cerny, for example, starts in net against Praha, and Patrick Sjölund and Nestor Söderqvist get huge cheers in Farjestads. Otherwise, it’s almost a Rochester Americans barnstorming tour, with Pavel Kiselev facing Mettalurg, and Gary Flynn, Oskar Åberg and Kaj Bergkvist seeing major time against the Elitserien teams.
It’s also a chance for lesser-used Panthers to step into the limelight. Petteri Wirtanen, the veteran center, starts and takes the first shift of each period again Turku in Finland; and Mike Burk centers the first line at times. Nathan Horton and Jay Bouwmeester only appear in four games total, three for Bouwmeester (McGill wants his many young defenders to pay strict attention to the Hall of Famer). Kenndal McArdle is a mere spectator. Cody Kozack, when he does play, spends much of his time alongside Robson and Zaczyk for example and support, while Anders Henriksson centers Artyem Filatov and Luch Sanipass.
Praha Sp, the Czech league champions, fights the Panthers to a draw; after that Florida begins to demolish the various foreign sides, with Filatov-Henriksson-Sanipass quickly emerging as a dangerous line during the tour. They aren’t playing pushovers, either. Every opponent is either the playoff or regular-season champion of their leagues, and several former NHLers are in their ranks. It is immaterial. Samuli Laine and John Cyr earn four assists each in a 12-2 laugher over Frölunda. Coles, Kiselev, and even Don Madden post shutouts. Henriksson finishes the tour with 4 goals and 8 assists. But Sanipass, time and again, is the story – the speed of the game hasn’t bothered him at all, and playing against much older men for the first time, he looks as dominant as he did playing against teenagers in juniors. He finishes the six-game tour with a pair of hat tricks among his ten goals.
Beginner has left McDonough behind in Florida to handle whatever may happen in his absence, choosing to travel with the team and watch all the games himself. He only misses one evening: his birthday. His wife flies out to meet the team and the two spend a day taking in the Czech countryside.