Skip to content

'I took a leap of faith': From BCIT to the Stanley Cup Finals

BCIT grad Taralynn Reburn started her sports career with the Burnaby Express
Laralynn Reburn, a BCIT grad who started her sales career with the Coquitlam Express, on the ice at the Florida Panthers' Amerant Bank Arena after the team advanced to the Stanley Cup Final agaisnt the Edmonton Oilers.

A BCIT grad will be part of the Florida Panthers’ effort to win the Stanley Cup when their final series against the Edmonton Oilers begins Saturday, June 8 — by making sure every seat in the team’s Amerant Bank Arena is filled.

But Taralynn Reburn won’t be electrifying the packed house with ice-length rushes or thundering hits on Oilers’ superstar Connor McDavid.

As the Panthers’ vice president of ticket sales and service, Reburn relies on good customer service and building relationships with new fans to help grow hockey culture in South Florida. It’s a tall order in a part of the world where most people’s connection to ice is to keep their margaritas cold.

“This market can be quite fickle,” Reburn said. “Fans traditionally go in the direction of the team who’s winning.”

Fortunately Reburn, who started her career as the director of sales and marketing for the Burnaby Express in 2009 and even called play-by-play for some of the team’s games, the Panthers have been doing a lot of that; this is Florida’s second straight appearance in the Stanley Cup finals and they follow a run of three straight by the state’s other NHL team, the Tampa Bay Lightning.

“We’re proving to the NHL that this is a hockey state with competitive teams and we’re a destination franchise that players want to be with,” Reburn said.

Following her stint with the Express that ended in 2012 with the team back in Coquitlam, Reburn spent almost two years in sales roles with the Vancouver Whitecaps soccer team and more than eight years with the Vancouver Canucks. She said connections she made within the industry led her to Florida in 2022 even though she’d never been there before.

“I took a leap of faith and it has been great ever since,” Reburn said.

It’s also been a lot of work.

Reburn said engaging fans in Florida requires a constant commitment to make them feel like they’re a valued part of the team’s success with perks like access to the Panthers’ new practice facility in downtown Fort Lauderdale and the organization’s involvement in youth hockey.

“Once people get into the building and see a game for the first time, they’re hooked and love the speed of the game compared to other sports,” she said.

Two consecutive years of Stanley Cup finals has also energized the market, Reburn said.

Panthers’ flags are draped on condo balconies, signs are planted on front lawns, restaurants and bars are tuning in their TV’s to the games.

“There’s a visible increased interest in the team,” Reburn said. “I overhear more conversations in the grocery store now about the Panthers than I ever have before.”

Even though Florida’s opponent is from north of the border, the ex-pat Canadian said she’s all-in to see the Cup remain in America, where it’s been ensconced since 1994.

“I’m 100 per cent Panthers on this one and have even converted a few from the west coast to cheer us on too,” Reburn said.

But what if the cards had fallen slightly differently and it was her former employer, the Vancouver Canucks, that prevailed in the seventh game of their quarter-final series against the Oilers and then defeated the Dallas Stars?

“I was hoping for a Florida-Vancouver final,” Reburn said. “It would have been an exciting and unique opportunity. It’s just the beginning for this new core of the Canucks and their time will come.”