The Pensacola Ice Flyers begin their quest for a fourth SPHL championship in five years when they open the 2016-17 season Friday Night at the Bay Center against the Fayetteville Fire Antz.
They’ll have one final celebration of last year’s glory before the puck drops.
“With the banner raising and having the (President’s) Cup there before the game – it’s just a reminder of what’s been accomplished in the past and what we expect ion the future,” said returning star Corey Banfield.
Banfield and four otherplayers are back from last year’s Ice Flyer squad and the vets have clearly set the standard for the new guys.
“We’ve had success in the past and we don’t settle for being mediocre, average in the league,” Banfield said.
The newcomers have gotten the message.
“From a team perspective nothing less than a championship,” said forward Aaron Clarke in dexribing the team’s goals. “That’s where the bar has been set. That what we’re here to accomplish so anything less would be a failure.”
The most noticeable newcomer is coach Kevin Hasselberg. The 40-year-old comes to minor league hockey after a stellar coaching career in the Canadian junior leagues. He likes what he sees so far in his Ice Flyers.
“It’s 20 players who are very enthusiastic about being here,” he said. “They are very enthused and passionate about what they bring to the table and we’ll get their best effort.”
Last year’s playoff hero Josh Cousineau thinks the team will have a style that Pensacola fans will embrace.
“I think we should be pretty strong,” he said, “definitely speed and toughness and pretty big so I’m looking forward to getting started here.”
Friday night’s game begins at 7:05. The first 1,500 fans will receive replica championship banners.