When Chase Priskie was a young hockey player growing up in Pembroke Pines, he says his parents could not afford the high cost of what it took to be on a travel team. If not for financial help from the likes of the Florida Panthers Foundation, he said, he probably would not have gone as far as he did.
Priskie, now a defenseman with the Panthers, wants to do his part to help kids in a similar situation.
On Sunday, the Panthers will play host to the Nashville Predators in a preseason doubleheader at the newly renamed FLA Live Arena.
The team is charging a $10 donation to the Foundation (it includes a ticket to both games and parking) with all money raised going to benefit youth hockey programs and individual players throughout South Florida.
Priskie, 25, is also kicking off a couple of charitable initiatives.
In an effort to help youth hockey players continue their dreams of playing the game at a high level, Priskie says he is going to fund players who may not be able to afford it.
Called ‘Priskie’s Partners,’ interested players are going to be able to apply for grant money coming from Priskie.
“They will write essays and we’ll look at report cards,” Priskie said. “Then we will pick out a couple of players who will receive a scholarship to pay for their travel hockey. I know there are a lot of parents out there struggling to be able to put their kids in the best situation to play the game they love.
“It is not cheap. Not whatsoever. Between equipment, travel, hotels, tuition … I’m going to do the best I can to try and help out.”
Priskie started skating at Pines Ice Arena near his home and played for numerous South Florida youth teams including the Jr. Panthers, Golden Wolves, Jr. Everblades and others.
He also played as a freshman at North Broward Prep under Peter Worrell before moving to prep school in the northeast and earning a scholarship to Quinnipiac where he was captain for two seasons.
”Growing up in South Florida, my parents really couldn’t afford for me to play hockey and I was lucky enough to be sponsored by the Panthers every year and receive a scholarship from them,” said Priskie, who is entering his third professional season.
“They pretty much paid my tuition for travel hockey. Without that, I wouldn’t have been able to play. Things came full circle. I never thought I would be in this position. Now that I am, and have taken it this far, the least I can do is give back to our community as best I can. Since the Panthers have moved some of their foundational work into other areas, this is an area that is really close to home for me. I could bring back the scholarship and help hockey players who just cannot afford it.”
To honor his mother, a longtime high school math teacher who currently teaches at J.P. Taravella in Coral Springs, Priskie is also purchasing two season tickets to the Panthers which will be distributed to different teachers throughout the year.
”My mom is a teacher at Taravella and seeing how hard they work … I mean, she had to transform all of her classes to an online teaching curriculum,’’ Priskie said. “They are just under appreciated, undervalued and certainly don’t have the resources. It’s an extremely difficult job. And I saw it firsthand, helping my mom put together all these presentations. I pretty much created a course that went to Taravella.
“I know the kids make her feel that he job is valued, but there is so much that goes on behind the scenes that’s overlooked. It’s close to home, I see it every day. I just want them to get away, hang out with family and friends and just enjoy some hockey.”
Priskie literally grew up a Panthers fan, his parents Lisa and Jeff taking him to his first game at Miami Arena in 1996 when he was not even a month old.
When the team moved to Sunrise in 1998, his father ended up working as a bartender on the club level with Chase often meeting him at the arena and watching the games after he wrapped up last call.
“I went to just about every home game for three or four years. I have seen it all there,’’ he said in 2020 “That arena, going to those games, were such a special time for the two of us.
“All the nights I spent watching games with him, having dinner at the arena with him. I was like 12, and he would let me free to roam the arena to watch the games. Those are some of my nearest and dearest memories I have. It is truly incredible to be able to come back. I can’t believe it.”
Jeff Priskie passed away in 2013 while Chase was a junior playing hockey at the South Kent School in Connecticut.
Now, his son is vying to become the first player to be born-and-raised in South Florida to play for the Panthers.
Sunday, he’ll suit up and play for his hometown team at that very same arena for the first time.
It may be called something else, but it’s the same barn the kid grew up in.
“I am excited anytime I get to dress in the NHL and to have it be at home, yeah, that’s pretty special,” said Priskie, who came to the Panthers in the Vincent Trocheck trade with Carolina in 2020. The Panthers did not hold preseason games last season.
“I’m just ready to play some hockey. I think it’ll be pretty emotional even though it doesn’t count as a regular season game. But, at the end of the day, it’s just hockey and I’m going to try and have some fun. There’s not much to it.”
PRESEASON DOUBLEHEADER VS. NASHVILLE PREDATORS
- When: Sunday, 2/6 p.m.
- Where: FLA Live Arena, Sunrise
- Tickets/parking for both games: $10 donation AVAILABLE HERE
- 2021 regular season series: Florida won 5-2-1
- TV/Radio: None
- Streaming: FloridaPanthers.com
FLORIDA PANTHERS POTENTIAL LINEUP
GAME 1 VS. NASHVILLE PREDATORS, 2 P.M.
Jonathan Huberdeau – Sam Bennett – Owen Tippett
Frank Vatrano – Noel Acciari – Patric Hornqvist
Maxim Mamin – Zac Dalpe – Aleksi Heponiemi
Justin Nachbaur – Justin Sourdif – Serron Noel
MacKenzie Weegar – Aaron Ekblad
Matt Kiersted – Kevin Connauton
Max Gildon – Chase Priskie
Spencer Knight – Chris Gibson
FLORIDA PANTHERS POTENTIAL LINEUP
GAME 2 VS. NASHVILLE PREDATORS, 6 P.M.
Carter Verhaeghe – Sasha Barkov – Sam Reinhart
Mason Marchment – Eetu Luostarinen – Anthony Duclair
Grigori Denisenko – Juho Lammikko – Ryan Lomberg
Tyler Hutsko – Cole Schwindt – Henry Bowlby
Gus Forsling – Brandon Montour
Markus Nutivaara – Radko Gudas
Lucas Carlsson – Noah Juulsen
Sergei Bobrovsky – Sam Montembeault – Evan Fitzpatrick