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Photo Credit: Rafael Gutierrez

The ice flew, body checks shook the glass and the red light behind the goal lit up as the Florida Panthers and Dallas Stars made their presence known in San Antonio on Friday, Sept. 20. A crowd of 7,762 was part of AT&T Center history when the Stars defeated the Panthers 4-1.

In what was billed as the “NHLinSA,” the Panthers and Stars participated in a week-long hockey promotion, culminating in the first-ever NHL game played in the AT&T Center.

The Panthers are currently the top affiliate club of the American Hockey League (AHL) San Antonio Rampage franchise who calls the AT&T Center home during the regular season.

The Stars collected the victory as left wing Antoine Roussel scored two goals in the first and second period and had one assist. Centers Colton Sceviour and Chris Mueller each scored a goal in the third period to seal the win for the Stars.

Down 3-0, defensemen Tom Gilbert finally gave the Panthers fans something to cheer about when he scored in the third period on a snap-shot past Stars goalie Dan Ellis.

“We knew the crowd was going to be good. Just from playing here I knew that the fans were pretty supportive regardless of the result,” Panthers center Drew Shore said. “You got to thank them for coming out and showing their support.”

Despite the loss, Panthers coach Kevin Dineen was pleased with the turnout and participation of the Panthers, Stars and Rampage organizations.

“I thought it was fabulous. This is such a great affiliation,” Dineen said. “I think the Florida Panthers feel very fortunate to be associated with the San Antonio (Spurs) basketball team here, as well as have our minor league team here. It’s a great partnership for us and obviously tonight was a good reflection of that.”

The fans looked to be divided as many sported Panthers, Stars and Rampage jerseys throughout the crowd.

“A great turnout and a good mix — some Dallas fans but certainly a lot of Panthers jerseys out there as well,” Dineen said.

Current Panthers players who have played for the Rampage franchise included Dov Grumet-Morris, Eric Selleck, Quinton Howden, Jed Ortmeyer, Jared Gomes, Colby Robak, Alex Petrovic and Shore.

Selleck and Stars left wing Luke Gazdic provided some fireworks in the first period as the two exchanged body and head shots in the only fight of the game.

This was the third NHL game to be played in San Antonio. In 1994 and 1995, the Stars played two exhibition games against the Los Angeles Kings in the Alamodome.

The Rampage will begin the 2013-14 season on Oct. 4, when they face the Chicago Wolves at the AT&T Center.

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