Three-time Presidents Cup winners. Three coaches in the past 12 months. Three dollar pints at McGuire’s. Great things come in threes.
Head Coach: Sixth-year SPHL coach Jeff Bes (142-113-25 overall) moves to the Gulf Coast from Fayetteville to take over from Rod Aldoff.
Last Season: 27-21-8, 62 points (6th place) – Defeated the Fayetteville FireAntz in the first round, lost to the Macon Mayhem in semifinals.
The then-defending Presidents Cup champs broke in rookie coach Kevin Hasselberg when two-time Cup winner Rod Aldoff took a job with the ECHL Norfolk Admirals. With Aldoff’s short-lived tenure in Norfolk combined with a struggling Ice Flyers squad under Hassleberg, Pensacola owner Greg Harris brought Aldoff back to the Flyers’ bench for a playoff run. Aldoff’s postseason magic worked for one round with a resounding sweep of Fayetteville before falling in two games to the eventual champion Macon Mayhem. Defenseman Louis Belisle thrived last season, leading all SPHL defensemen with 50 points (18G/32A), gaining league Defenseman of the Year honors.
- #GoalieWays – Goaltender John McLean retired over the offseason and fellow netminder Matt Zenzola playing in Fayetteville. Replacing the Twin Towers of Gregory Street is Hockey Jesus himself – Sean Bonar.
- #ComebackKid – Less than a year after a frightening injury on Thanksgiving night in Atlanta, Anthony Calabrese makes his return to the rink in an inspiring comeback.
- Jeff Bes – The former Surge and FireAntz coach gets a fresh start, with the difficult task of filling Aldoff’s skates.
- #YouKnowYourArenaIsOldWhen – you can’t play Atari on your barn’s jumbotron. Talk of replacing the 30-year-old Bay Center was a major story in the offseason.
Belisle was the only SPHL player to get two penalty shot attempts last season but failed to convert on either.
- Sean Bonar – The reigning SPHL MVP and Goalie of the Year was traded to Pensacola in a historic deal.
- Josh Cousineau (@DirtyMitts71) – The quick-skating forward is looking to make SportsCenter for the third consecutive season.
- Phil Bushbacher (@Pbushbac) – The CHL/ECHL journeyman has had stints with the IceGators and Rivermen. Returning to North American hockey after two years in Europe.
Blocked and Reported
- Corey Banfield (@CBanfield16) – Banfield has been rehabbing an injury over the offseason, and is probable to rejoin the Ice Flyers this season
- Matt Zenzola (@MattZenzola35) – After two seasons and a Presidents Cup MVP award, the big goalie looked for an ECHL gig in Allen, but the unprotected netminder signed in Fayetteville.
- Brandon Blair (@Brandon_M_Blair) – The hard-punching blueliner spent some time with Aldoff and the Admirals last season and tried to catch on with Rapid City.
The lack of returning players to the beach is leaving the Flyers outgunned. Can the new recruits at the Hangar get up to speed?
What Say You?