MACON, Ga – And then there were four.
The Pensacola Ice Flyers became the fourth and final team to qualify for the SPHL President’s Cup Playoffs on Friday with a 5-2 win against Huntsville coupled with Birmingham’s 5-1 defeat at the hands of Knoxville.
Macon and Knoxville have clinched home ice and the first and second seeds in the semifinal round. The seedings for Huntsville and Pensacola are still up for grabs as Huntsville is currently one point ahead of Pensacola in the standings.
Huntsville closes out the regular season by hosting Macon on Tuesday, going to Birmingham on Friday prior to hosting Macon next Saturday, and Pensacola next Sunday. Pensacola hosts Knoxville on Saturday and Sunday plays at Birmingham next Saturday prior to the finale against Huntsville.
Whoever finishes higher between Huntsville and Pensacola will play Knoxville in the first round with the lower of the two seeds playing Macon.
Friday’s win by Pensacola avenged a 2-1 shootout loss to Huntsville earlier in the week as well as snapping a three-game losing streak.
The Ice Flyers enjoyed a balance of scoring on Friday, getting five goals from four different players. Darren McCormick was the only multi-goal scorer, and the latter of his two goals was critical in the win. Ahead 3-0 through two periods, the Ice Flyers saw their lead shrink in the third period by the 8:21 mark on goals by Sy Nutkevitch and Rob Darrar.
That momentum lasted just 31 seconds, as McCormick’s goal moved the Pensacola lead back to 4-2. The Ice Flyers added a fifth goal by Brennan Blaszczak with other goals being scored by Jake Wahlin and Eddie Matsushima.
Wahlin, McCormick, and Matsushima continue to lead Pensacola in scoring with 32, 31, and 28 goals, respectively.
Jake Kupsky stopped 22 of 24 shots to get the win for the Ice Flyers with Huntsville’s Jason Pawloski making 34 saves.