Former Niagara IceDogs captain leads Florida against Toronto Maple Leafs


Published May 2, 2023 at 12:41 pm

Carter Verhaeghe of the Florida Panthers was originally drafted by the Toronto Maple Leafs but is remembered here as being the captain of the Niagara IceDogs 10 years ago.

For anyone who watched the Boston Bruins vs Florida Panthers game seven on Sunday night (April 30), the name Carter Verhaeghe may seem very familiar.

That’s because he not only assisted on Brandon Montour’s tying goal with exactly one minute left in the third period, he was also the Panther who became a hero himself when he went top shelf over a screened Jeremy Swayman to complete one of the biggest upsets in NHL playoff history.

That’s why a hockey fan might recognize him now. However, in St. Catharines, he was well-known a decade ago when he captained the Niagara IceDogs over at the Meridian Centre.

Verhaeghe, who was originally drafted by the Toronto Maple Leafs in the third round of the 2013 draft, 82nd overall, after notching 18 goals and 44 points in 67 games as a member of the IceDogs.

Those would be the same Leafs that Verhaeghe and his Florida squad now face in Round Two of the 2023 Stanley Cup playoffs, starting tonight (May 2).

Verhaeghe potted eight points in his seven games against the Bruins, including that OT winner becoming the only player on the Florida side to score a series-clinching goal.

While the Toronto side are heavily favoured to win the Round Two series, Verhaeghe, a Waterdown native, has some Cup cred on his side as he was a member of the 2020 Tampa Bay Stanley Cup champion team.

However, as an restricted free agent with arbitration rights and an exorbitant salary cap pressure in Tampa, Verhaeghe wasn’t given an offer by the Lightning and landed with cross-state rival Florida.

His big overtime goal against the Bruins was not his only hero moment. During last year’s playoffs, Florida was playing Washington and in Game 6, Verhaeghe would score an overtime goal to give the Panthers their first playoff series win since 1996.

Clearly, he’s a big-moment player and someone the Leafs’ defence better keep a close eye on.

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