KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Recently the Knoxville Ice Bears announced the return of former captain and champion Jason Price for the upcoming 2019-2020 campaign.
“We’ve had half a dozen guys over 30 in the last two seasons and having that kind of experience in the locker room is extremely helpful. Jason can step on the ice and immediately set the tone for the entire game,” Ice Bears Head Coach Jeff Carr said. “We’ve been working to make this deal happen for two seasons and I’m excited to have him join us.”
Price’s first stint with the Ice Bears ended during the 2016-2017 campaign after being indefinitely suspended by the league after the event now known as “The Huntsville Incident.” He applied for reinstatement before the 2017-2018 but was denied by the SPHL, leaving Price ineligible for the 2017-2018 season.
Before the 2018-2019 year, Price re-applied for and was granted reinstatement by the league. Any team willing to sign him would face severe scrutiny. The Pensacola Ice Flyers took a chance on Price, hoping his leadership qualities would help turn their season around.
Under Price’s leadership, Pensacola became one of the hottest teams in the second half of the season. Pensacola won 19 of the 28 games Price played in and earned points in 23 of those 28 games. Pensacola only had seven wins without Price on the roster. Price was involved in 42 of Pensacola’s 58 total points on the season. He was a strong leader on and off the ice for the Ice Flyers and midway thru his tenure was named team captain.
I recently had an opportunity to interview Jason regarding his time away from Knoxville and his return to the Ice Bears. Here are five quick questions with Jason Price.
JT Russell, The Sin Bin: After your appeal for reinstatement was denied, did you contemplate retirement or was trying to return always the plan?
Jason Price: I wasn’t sure if I would come back and play again. I have a life here in Knoxville and a business, so coming back had to be something that was right for me and my whole family.
TSB: Pensacola struggled in the first half of the year. What do you think contributed to the turnaround, and what did you bring personally?
JP: Pensacola had lost a lot of one-goal games and was a good team. I think what helped turn us around was just some more leadership that I tried to help bring. We also kind of changed the way we viewed things and did things which helped turn us around.
TSB: What did you think of the Ice Bears style when you played against them?
JP: Knoxville had a lot of fast forwards who can make plays and a lot of big, quick defensemen who were in shape and could move the puck. A very tough team to play against.
TSB: What do you hope to bring to the Ice Bears?
JP: I hope to bring a little bit of everything on the ice. I want to help the team in whatever way I can. I feel at my best when I can be on the ice to help my team.
TSB: Was being an Ice Bear one more time important for you?
JP: Being an Ice Bear one more time was paramount for me. I was in a great spot here, and I want to be able to replicate that.
Price, the league’s eldest player, will be returning to the Ice Bears at the age of 34. While some may see his age and build as an issue, Carr doesn’t think it will be.
“He is 6’3 215, so he’s not a bulky 235 pounds. He has a good build. His body type is one of the reasons he’s been able to play and be as good as he’s been for so long.”
The style of defense Price plays will be very beneficial to the Ice Bears. Price plays with a veteran savvy that any team would love. Carr said of Price and his style:
“Jason knows what to do, he’ll dump the puck in the zone 20 times if he has to. He won’t take unnecessary hits, he will make the smart plays.”
The Ice Bears, with the addition of Price, have brought in the league’s most experienced player with 530 regular season games worth of experience underneath his belt. Price also brings a knowledge of what it takes to win a championship in Knoxville as an Ice Bear.