In a rare turn of events, the Florida Panthers found themselves without a goaltender when both starter Roberto Luongo and backup Al Montoya sustained injuries in Tuesday night’s game against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
From fourth-line center Derek MacKenzie to 41-year-old goalie coach Robb Tallas, the team examined all its emergency options before Luongo eventually returned from a nearby hospital to save the day and finish the game.
It was a once-in-lifetime event, but nevertheless got people thinking: Could the Panthers have pulled someone from the stands and placed them in the crease?
On Thursday, the Panthers embraced that intriguing what-if with the announcement of their "Goal of a Lifetime" contest. The contest’s aim is to give one Panthers fan — man or woman — the opportunity to sign a one-day amateur tryout contract and serve as the Panthers backup goalie in practice for one day.
"We are very excited to launch this contest and expect a great turnout for this ultimate fan experience," Panthers executive chairman Peter Luukko said in a release. "This contest provides our hockey community with the opportunity to earn a chance to skate with the Panthers and serve as the team’s backup practice goalie for a day."
The contest isn’t open to any average Joe, however, as all applicants, age 18 or older, are asked to submit their playing resume to FloridaPanthers.com/backupgoalie. After reviewing the resumes, a select group of goaltenders will participate in an on-ice try-out that will take place on March 16 at the BB&T Center.
From there, two finalists will be selected from the try-outs and will be invited to compete in a shootout alongside Panthers Alumni during the first intermission of Florida’s game against the Montreal Canadiens on March 17.
The goaltender with the best performance in the shootout will be selected as the winner and sign a one-day amateur try-out with the team, serving as a back-up practice goalie.
"We look forward to welcoming goaltenders from across South Florida to this open try-out," Tallas said. "It promises to be a once in a lifetime experience for the goaltender who is selected to serve as our team’s back-up practice goalie for a day."
The winning goaltender will also receive two complimentary tickets for each home game remaining in the 2014-2015 regular season, a team-signed jersey and will be featured on Fox Sports Florida during an intermission segment.