A West Point Showdown: Florida Panthers and Vegas Knights March into the Stanley Cup Finals

Category: Grad News
Class Years: ,
By Jamie Enos, WPAOG Associate Director of Communications

Two teams are left standing at the pinnacle of success, ready to battle it out for the most coveted trophy in ice hockey—the Stanley Cup. As the Stanley Cup Finals approach, hockey fans around the world eagerly anticipate the clash between the Florida Panthers and the Vegas Golden Knights. Both teams have defied the odds, showcasing their exceptional skill, teamwork, and resilience throughout the playoffs. The good news for West Point NHL fans is we can’t lose, since both teams share a unique connection to the United States Military Academy, adding an extra layer of significance to each teams’ journey to the finals.

Florida Panthers’ Ties to West Point

The Florida Panthers have a notable link to the United States Military Academy at West Point in their owner, Vinnie Viola ’77. Viola’s military background brings discipline, leadership, and a deep understanding of teamwork to the Panthers’ coaching staff.

Viola’s West Point education instilled core values of dedication, commitment, and perseverance, which Viola has brought to the Panthers’ locker room after rescuing the organization in 2013. Viola, who founded and funded the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point, has taken his military lessons and applied them to the hockey franchise. His ability to inspire players, instill a strong work ethic, and foster a winning culture has contributed to the team’s remarkable drive to the Stanley Cup Finals. These leadership skills, honed at West Point, have translated into the Panthers’ on-ice success.

Vegas Golden Knights’ Ties to West Point

The Vegas Golden Knights also have a unique West Point connection through their owner Bill Foley ’67. Foley’s love of West Point is felt throughout the organization—right down to the name. His entrepreneurial spirit, strategic thinking, and ability to build successful enterprises have solidified Foley’s reputation as a remarkable figure in the business arena.

Foley’s ownership of the NHL’s 31st franchise has been nothing short of remarkable. Acquiring the franchise in 2016, Foley quickly built a team that defied all expectations. During their inaugural season in 2017-2018, the Knights made an unprecedented run to the Stanley Cup Finals, captivating the hockey world. Foley’s astute leadership and commitment to the team’s success have been instrumental in fostering a winning culture. He invested in top-tier talent, assembled a skilled coaching staff, and created a strong fan base in Las Vegas. Under his guidance, the Vegas Golden Knights have become a model of success, setting the bar high for expansion teams across all sports.

Shared Commitment to Excellence

Both the Florida Panthers and the Vegas Golden Knights exemplify the values of excellence, determination, and camaraderie associated with West Point. These teams have demonstrated their commitment to achieving greatness through their performance on the ice, and the West Point connection adds an additional layer of meaning to their journey. The Panthers and Golden Knights have captivated fans with their exceptional play throughout the playoffs, showcasing their depth, skill, and unwavering determination. The West Point ethos serves as a reminder of the importance of teamwork, discipline, and sacrifice in achieving success both on and off the ice.

As the Florida Panthers and the Vegas Golden Knights face off in the Stanley Cup Finals, their shared West Point connection adds an intriguing dimension to the matchup. The influence of West Point alumni has undoubtedly contributed to the success of their respective teams. The discipline, leadership, and values instilled by USMA have played a crucial role in shaping the Panthers’ and Golden Knights’ determination to reach the finals.

As these two teams battle for hockey’s ultimate prize, the West Point bond serves as a reminder of the enduring values that drive excellence in sports and beyond. And let us note—Navy isn’t writing this article. Go Army!

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