SUNRISE, Fla. -- Flyers defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere attended Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School when he was a Pembroke Pines-born, hockey-playing teenager.
So when Philadelphia made its first visit to Sunrise since 17 people were killed at the school on Feb. 14, Gostisbehere hosted the school's hockey team on Sunday. Last weekend, Stoneman Douglas' club hockey team won the state title, punching its ticket to nationals.
"It was definitely special," Gostisbehere said. "Just to get their minds off all the bad stuff that's happened in the past couple weeks and put some fun in their lives and just shoot the stuff. Obviously, them winning brings the community together."
Earlier this season, Gostisbehere honored Stoneman Douglas by wearing a helmet decal that read "MSD Strong." He conducted postgame interviews Sunday wearing a backward Stoneman Douglas hat. Then he met with the entire team before the Flyers left South Florida.
"It's the least I could do," Gostisbehere said. "I've got to thank the Panthers for setting it up and obviously the Flyers for going with it. Obviously, it's just something to take their minds off. They've had a rough past couple of weeks here, just something to take their minds off of something and have some laughs."
Gostisbehere did not graduate from Stoneman Douglas, instead leaving after two years to play hockey at South Kent Prep in Connecticut. He is one of just five Florida-born NHL players this season.
Last Sunday, Stoneman Douglas won two games to win the state championship in Estero. They beat East Lake, 3-1, then Tampa Jesuit, 7-4.
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When the Panthers played their first home game since the shooting against the Washington Capitals on Feb. 22, the team invited the Stoneman Douglas club team. Panthers players met with them after the game and later expressed pride in their state championship.
"Just to get their minds off so many negatives and turn it into positive, it's good," Gostisbehere said. "It's definitely awesome. Obviously, they won the state title. Hopefully, they can turn it into a national title when they're going to Minnesota."
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