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Louisville Panthers Hockey Apparel & Drinkware

The Louisville Panthers were the third different pro hockey team to call the Derby City home during the 1990s. Following in the footsteps of the Icehawks and RiverFrogs, the Panthers started play at Freedom Hall for the 1999-00 season. The Panthers aimed bigger than both the ‘Hawks and the ‘Frogs though as they played at a much larger venue in Freedom Hall – the other teams played at Broadbent Arena that had about half the capacity of Freedom Hall – and the Panthers were a step up in competition as they played in the AHL while the other two played in the ECHL. With the Kentucky Thoroughblades in Lexington also in the AHL at this time, the state of Kentucky had two Triple-A hockey teams in 1999! 

The Panthers had two solid seasons on the ice in Louisville and saw some future stars come through their ranks. In their first season, 1999-00, they went 42-30-7-1 and were led by Eric Bogunecki and Dan Boyle. In a very crowded Mid-Atlantic Division they finished fourth but were only five points off of the first place Thoroughblades. In Kentucky’s first and only intra-state playoff, the Thoroughblades and Panthers faced off in the first round of the 2000 playoffs, with the Thoroughblades taking the series 3-1. 

Louisville’s second season was quite as exciting as the team regressed and went only 21-51-5-3. One note is that they did get three appearances from future Hall of Famer, Roberto Luongo. The Panthers attendances were unfortunately not great for an AHL team in a 17,000 seat area at around 5,000 fans per game. After only two seasons, management pulled the plug and moved the team to Iowa.