Florida Panthers

Panthers duo get a chance to return to old college grounds for this historic series

Florida Panthers Mike Matheson and Buffalo Sabres Jason Pominville move along the glass as they chase the puck in the first period at the BB&T Center in Sunrise, Florida, April 7, 2018. Florida Panthers players Ian McCoshen and Matheson get chance to return to Boston for the Comm Ave Charity Classic.
Florida Panthers Mike Matheson and Buffalo Sabres Jason Pominville move along the glass as they chase the puck in the first period at the BB&T Center in Sunrise, Florida, April 7, 2018. Florida Panthers players Ian McCoshen and Matheson get chance to return to Boston for the Comm Ave Charity Classic. ctrainor@miamiherald.com

It’s been a while since Ian McCoshen or Mike Matheson skated in Boston and weren’t treated like it was behind enemy lines.

The Florida Panthers duo, from different coasts and different countries, are bound by their paths continuing to cross.

On Friday night in Boston, they found themselves back where they were united for the first time, skating in maroon and gold.

“This is his first time too,” McCoshen said. “Mike’s been a pretty good mentor for me, even throughout college too. We were both drafted by Florida and didn’t really know how things would turn out with our professional careers. But our paths have been pretty similar with development at BC and the American League and Florida, too.”

The Comm Ave Charity Classic is the annual Boston University — Boston College alumni game that takes place at BU’s Walter Brown Arena. The game benefits Compassionate Care ALS, Pete Frates Home Health Initiative, and the Travis Roy Foundation.

For the two of them, it’s just another parallel in their mirroring careers.

“We’ve followed each other around from the USHL then BC and then both going to Florida,” Matheson said. “We’re pretty tight and were roommates on the road together. It’s fun to go through this for the first time together.

Both McCoshen and Matheson are playing in their first edition of the game. For the duo, it’s a chance to catch up with former teammates while getting the opportunity to play a rare competitive summer hockey game.

“Catching up with former teammates and other guys I know at BC, it’s great,” said McCoshen. “Raising a lot of money and awareness for the charities we’re playing for, too.”

McCoshen wasn’t expecting to be back in Boston this summer, but once he got the call, it was an easy decision to return to the confines of the college rink.

“I really didn’t anticipate or expect to be asked to play this summer,” McCoshen said. “To get the call from Pat Mullane setting up and coordinating the team was a shock. I didn’t anticipate playing in the game.”

Matheson has wanted to play in the past few seasons, but finally it worked out, and the timing was perfect with McCoshen also participating.

“Every year I’ve wanted to go down, but it hasn’t been able to work out,” Matheson said. “It’s been a while since I’ve been able to see a lot of the guys I used to play with and against, it’s a fun reunion.”

With training camp on the horizon, getting on the ice isn’t a bad thing. It isn’t quite the same intensity as training camp, but getting on the ice before the preseason begins has its benefits.

“I think we’re all just ready for camp,” McCoshen said. “Ready to get back out on the ice again. It’s fun to play in a competitive game for the first time this summer.”

With competitive hockey tough to come by in the summer for most pros, the change of pace can leave them rejuvenated before the season.

“There’s only so much stick handling through cones that you can do before it starts to get boring,” Matheson said. “It’s nice to get into competitive games, especially right now so close to training camp.”

With the season on the horizon, both Matheson and McCoshen are preparing for the next chapter in their careers that have seemed to reflect each other.

Another chance to play together as teammates before the season has them potentially even closer.

“He’s always been a good resource for me to have,” said McCoshen. “We have a pretty good healthy relationship. It’s not cutthroat competitive like some teams can be. We appreciate the time that we spend together.”

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