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South Florida’s playoff watch-party showdown: Florida Panthers vs. Miami Heat

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South Florida’s playoff watch-party showdown: Florida Panthers vs. Miami Heat

Rats! What’s a Miami Heat-loving Florida Panthers fan — and vice versa — to do this week?

As the NBA’s Heat and the NHL’s Panthers were set to begin the next round in their respective playoffs, the NHL on Monday revealed a Panthers schedule nearly identical to the one previously announced for the Heat.

“You’ve got to be kidding me,” said Raymond Gil, a Heat fan from Deerfield Beach, who usually watches games at his local Duffy’s Sports Grill. “Now I have to share TVs with Panthers’ fans? It’s cool, but the flow and the vibe, totally different.”

Gil may find his seat already taken, as the Panthers start earlier.

The Panthers schedule in the best-of-seven playoffs includes games at 7 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday at FLA Live Arena in Sunrise, then 1:30 p.m. Sunday and 7 p.m. Monday in Tampa Bay. Should they be required, there would be games May 25, 27 and 29 at times TBD.

The Heat play at 8:30 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday at FTX Arena in Miami, then 8:30 p.m. Saturday and Monday in Boston. If that series extends beyond four games, they also would be held May 25, 27 and 29 at times TBD.

After weeks of anticipation over these playoffs, the realization that a fan of both teams may not be able to watch them live and uninterrupted for many games is a buzzkill.

Mauricio Cardenal, a Panthers season ticket holder since the team’s magical 1995-96 Stanley Cup run made tossing rubber rats on the ice a thing, has held season tickets to the Miami Heat just as long. Cardenal said he would have tried to attend games for both teams.

“It just sucks. The last couple of weeks of the [Heat and Panthers] playoffs, it’s been every other night, and it’s given the fan base down here a great opportunity. They could shift from one sport to the other, from one team to the other, and stay excited,” said Cardenal, 49, of Coral Gables. “Now it’s, ‘Alright, I have to decide, one or the other.’”

Adding to the frustration, this is the first time the Heat and Panthers have advanced this far in the playoffs at the same time, each also is a top seed and each is facing a bitter rival — Miami Heat vs. Boston Celtics, Florida Panthers vs. Tampa Bay Lightning.

Chrissy Parente, Florida Panthers corporate communications manager, said the schedule is a product of a “complex puzzle” of broadcast rights and building commitments among the eight teams left in the NHL playoffs.

“Obviously for Florida fans, this is unfortunate,” Parente said. “The Panthers management and NHL have been in touch regarding scheduling.”

Cardenal isn’t sure what his plan is yet for home games at the Heat’s FTX Arena and the Panthers’ FLA Live Arena, saying he may alternate between the two teams. Watching road games at home, he plans to follow the Panthers game until the end, then switch to the Heat.

“The Comeback Cats, they’re fun to watch, they’re never out of it,” he said, then admitted, “I’m more nervous about the Panthers than I am the Heat.”

The schedule has created a unique situation for South Florida bars and restaurants trying to set up watch parties that cater to each fan base with a limited number of TVs.

The Funky Buddha Brewery in Oakland Park is an official Florida Panthers bar. It has a taproom at FLA Live Arena and hosts road-game watch parties that have been standing-room-only popular as the team has navigated the season into the playoffs.

The brewery and Riverwalk Fort Lauderdale are hosting a free, family friendly Panthers watch party at Esplanade Park in downtown Fort Lauderdale for the team’s game at 1:30 p.m. Sunday, said marketing director John Linn.

But the brewery also has a business partnership with the Miami Heat, Linn said.

“Isn’t it crazy? Somebody needs to move one of these series,” he said, laughing.

A typical Panthers watch party at the Funky Buddha includes four large projector screens, sound on, in addition to the smaller TVs over the bar. Linn said “some” will be tuned to the Heat game while the Panthers are on.

A signature of the watch parties are free servings of the brewery’s Panthers-themed Gloves Off IPA after a win to anyone in Panthers’ gear. Linn would not commit to another free beer for someone wearing a Jimmy Butler shirt under an Aaron Ekblad jersey if both teams win.

“I can’t endorse a double dip, but it would be a great day in the taproom,” he said.

Staff writer Ben Crandell can be reached at [email protected].

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Minnesota United gives away late lead in Miami

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Minnesota United gives away late lead in Miami

For so much of the second half, Minnesota looked comfortable and ready to take a much-needed victory.

Shockingly, Inter Miami, the second-worst goal-scoring team in MLS notched two goals in the final three minutes to flip the script and take a 2-1 victory in the first MLS meeting between the two teams.

“[We] put ourselves in a great spot,” manager Adrian Heath said. “Put ourselves in a really good position. We’re not doing enough, it doesn’t look as though it’s enough to concede goals and lose games.”

Inter Miami forward Indiana Vassilev only made it into the game as a late-game bench substitution, but he made the most of his opportunity scoring in the 87th and 90th minute to give his team a victory, surpassing Minnesota’s one-goal lead it held since the 65th minute.

The Loons’ defense had kept Minnesota in the game for each chance Inter Miami had for the first 86 minutes, but the team couldn’t get the stops near the end to come up with the victory.

“At those times of the game, you need to do whatever you can to just beat your man,” Loons defender Michael Boxall said.

Minnesota’s victory looked nearly locked up as the Loons held the 1-0 difference into the final five minutes of the game. That goal followed a resilient start to the second half after many chances weren’t finished.

The Minnesota goal scorer was Luis Amarilla, who put the ball past the Inter Miami goalkeeper in tight in the 65th minute. It was his first goal in MLS play since March 19.

Amarilla was in such a position to score the goal so close to the keeper because of an acrobatic one-touch centering pass from Franco Fragapane. The play all began from Emmanuel Reynoso getting the ball on the right side of the attacking zone. He cut towards the middle and sent a lofting kick that found the airborne Fragapane for his assist.

While Minnesota finally found the back of the net in the back half of the game, there was no shortage of missed opportunities earlier in the contest.

“We’re not good enough at one end, and we’re not good enough at the other, and that’s not a good recipe,” Heath said. “We’ve got to get more and more determination to get on the things in the box and we’ve certainly got to defend the goal better.”

By the end of the game, Inter Miami had eight shots on target, while Minnesota had just one, the Amarilla goal.

The loss marks the first since Minnesota announced Heath’s two-year contract extension through 2024 on Thursday. The defeat also adds to a 1-6-1 stretch over the Loons’ last eight games, including Saturday night.

Heath said on Wednesday that the goal was to come away with four points in this road trip at Inter Miami on Saturday and on Wednesday at L.A. Galaxy. With the loss to Inter Miami, that goal is no longer possible.

The Loons must keep looking forward to get back on track and into playoff contention. After the loss on Saturday, Minnesota sits 11th in the Western Conference Standings, five points outside of the seventh spot, the cutoff for the playoffs.

“The good thing is that it’s a quick turnaround,” Boxall said. “Not quite looking ahead to L.A. just yet, we still need to process this game and figure out what we need to address, because that should be three points we’re taking home tonight.”

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Twins record second shutout in three days in win over Rockies

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Twins record second shutout in three days in win over Rockies

Puffy white clouds filled the blue skies above Target Field and sunlight bounced off buildings that make up the Minneapolis skyline. It was the kind of summer night at the ballpark that Minnesotans dream about throughout the long winter months.

It was the perfect night at Target Field and the hometown team, well, they were nearly perfect, too. Twins pitchers gave up just one hit (and five walks), and the team captured a first-inning lead on its way to a 6-0 win over the Colorado Rockies on Saturday night at Target Field.

A day after getting shut out for the 10th time this season, tying the league lead, Luis Arraez and Byron Buxton made sure early on that the Twins wouldn’t suffer the same fate. Arraez snapped an 0-for-11 stretch to begin the game and Buxton, back in the lineup for the first time since Tuesday, followed that up with his first triple since 2019.

After missing time this week after his knee flared up, Buxton turned on the burners, with a sprint speed of 29.3 feet/second (30 ft/sec is elite) on the triple, losing his helmet along the way. When he reached the base, he pounded his chest a couple times, smacked his hands together and let out a roar.

While the Twins left Buxton on third, they added on throughout the game, tacking on a run in the second on Arraez’s second hit of the game, two more in the fifth and two more in the seventh.

Alex Kirilloff drove in three of those runs, one on a sacrifice fly and the other on a double off the right field wall, bringing home Max Kepler — who walked three times in the game — and Kyle Garlick. The double was his fourth in eight games since being recalled from Triple-A.

All that offense came in support of Chris Archer, who worked five innings and allowed just one hit — a single to former Twin C.J. Cron in the second inning — and a walk in his outing.  Archer pitched out of that second-inning jam, retiring the next three batters in a row, the first of 12 straight that he sent down to conclude his start.

His start was followed by a scoreless inning each from Jharel Cotton and Griffin Jax and two from Tyler Thornburg. Twins pitchers have now thrown two shutouts in their past three games, and in Friday’s loss, they gave up just one run.

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A Pride timeline: Gay rights in Minnesota from 1858-2022

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A Pride timeline: Gay rights in Minnesota from 1858-2022

1858: Joseph Israel Lobdell, born Lucy Lobdell, is arrested for “impersonating a man.” A judge in the rural camp community of Forest City, Minn., sided with Lobdell, ruling that he did not act unlawfully.

1877: Minneapolis rules crossdressing as illegal, putting gender-nonconforming Minnesotans at risk for imprisonment.

1969: The Stonewall riots begin in New York City after police raids occur in the gay-friendly bars and community spaces of Lower Manhattan. These riots serve as a public turning point in American LGBTQ+ history.

May 18, 1969: University of Minnesota alumni found Fight Repression of Erotic Expression, or FREE, the first LGBTQ+ rights organization in the state. Founders Jack Baker and Michael McConnell become the first same-sex couple in the nation to apply for a marriage license, an application that is rejected by Hennepin County. Their legal case is dismissed by the U.S. Supreme Court in one sentence.

1972: The first Twin Cities Pride celebration is held in Minneapolis’ Loring Park.

Dec. 9, 1972: Minnesota state Sen. Allan Henry Spear indicates he is gay in an interview with the Minneapolis Star, making him the first openly gay state legislator in the United States.

June 1982: Bruce Brockway becomes the first documented recipient of an HIV diagnosis in Minnesota. After his diagnosis, he founded the Minnesota AIDS Project to provide resources to HIV-positive Minnesotans.

1993: Gender- and sexuality-based discrimination is outlawed in Minnesota, making it the first state in the nation to adopt the policy.

1997: Sicaŋgu Lakota man Nicholas Metcalf and his partner, Korean-American Edd Lee, found the Minnesota Men of Color, an organization that focuses on the well-being of men, women and gender-nonconforming people of color.

2012: Amendment 1, which limits marriage rights to only heterosexual couples, is rejected by the majority of Minnesota voters. Same-sex marriage is legalized in the state.

June 2015: The U.S. Supreme Court releases a decision in Obergefell v. Hodges finding that same-sex marriage cannot be banned in any state and must be recognized nationally. Gay marriage is legalized.

June 25-26, 2022: After two years of pandemic-related cancellations, the Twin Cities Pride parade and festival returns to Minneapolis.

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