BRIANNA EDLER – The Corsair
The Pensacola Ice Flyers are scheduled to leave their home arena, The Hangar, this week to play in Tennessee, Louisiana, and Mississippi. The team will compete against the Knoxville Ice Bears twice, then travel to Louisiana to challenge the Ice Gators, and finally head over to Mississippi to face the Surge.
The Pensacola Ice Flyers rank No. 3 in the Southern Professional Hockey League (SPHL). “It doesn’t matter what we are ranked, as long as we get better every day, then the standings will take care of their self,” Todd Gordon, the team’s head coach, said.
Center Matt Whitehead (11) cut the ice during the Pensacola Ice Flyer game against the Augusta River Hawks on Nov. 13. With three assisted goals and one goal of his own, Whitehead, assistant captain, was named first star of the game.
Captain Mark Hinz has scored numerous goals during this season. “When I go out on the ice, I don’t think about scoring; I think about all the little things I can do to win,” Hinz, defenseman, said.
“When I am given the chance, I shoot as hard as I can and hope the puck goes in the net.”
“My expectations for this season is to win all the time and work hard,” Gordon said.
With six home games already played, the Ice Flyers will continue to have games every month until March. At that time they will compete in the President’s Cup championship playoffs.
They made it to the championship playoffs last year, which was incredible for a first time team.
The players stick up for one another, even if that means getting into a fight. Whether it’s minor roughhousing, pushing, shoving, or an all out brawl, it gets the crowd pumped. Right wing Tyler Barr, a second assistant captain, said, “It depends on how angry I am or not. I want to win, and get the team pumped, and of course beat the other guy up.”
Barr (16) is known for his fighting. Last season, out of every player in the SPHL, Barr tied at ninth (with 10 fights) for the most fights, right after Daryl Moor of the MississWippi Surge.
According to Gordon, the Pensacola Ice Flyer captains and assistant captains are, “chosen based on leadership, ethic, and what is brought to the team.”
Hinz said that Gordon “called me one day and said I was captain.”
Along with being a great captain, Hinz has talked players into joining the Ice Flyer team.
“I was on the same team in a central league with Mark. He convinced me to come down and try out for the team,” said defenseman Dan Erhman.
Each player has a different pre-game warm up routine. “I have to have a Dr. Pepper before I play,” Whitehead said.
“I have to have a good meal before I play. Then I ride the bike, stretch, and tape my [hockey] stick,” Dan Erhman said.
While Erhman is getting his heart racing on the bike, Hinz has a different warm up routine. “I take heat packs and heat up my legs. I sit down, drink my coffee and relax,” Hinz said.
With a grand total of 15,058 fans in the past six home games, the Pensacola Ice Flyers are really in the zone.