Former Knoxville Ice Bears captain David Segal makes his second trip to the Knoxville Civic Center as his Pensacola Ice Flyers (20-12-3) take on the red-hot Ice Bears (19-18-3) at 7:05 ET. Tonight’s game is the fourth between the teams this season, with the Ice Bears winning two of the previous three matches. Tonight’s Ice Flyers/Ice Bears game is tonight’s lone SPHL contest.
Ice Flyers coach Rod Aldoff has been active in the personnel department this week, waiving goaltender John McLean. The 6’9″ goaltender – the tallest player in the SPHL – was winless in his last four starts. Pensacola is slated to give journeyman Brent Troyan his first ever SPHL start tonight, as the Flyers pick up Steve Barnard as an emergency backup. Aldoff also traded defenseman Phil Tesoriero to the Huntsville Havoc for the rights to forward Matt Whitehead. Whitehead, who spent the last four seasons with the Mississippi RiverKings, began his SPHL career with the Ice Flyers in 2009, scoring 98 points (29G/59A) in 92 games with Pensacola. Finally, defensive mainstay Jeremy Gates has returned to Pensacola after a lengthy stint with the ECHL Cincinnati Cyclones. Gates appeared in 11 games with the Cyclones. Coach Aldoff released forward Cody Dion to make room for Gates on the roster.
Coach Mike Craigen and his Ice Bears continue to ride the hot goaltending of Boston College product Brian Billett and veteran netminder Bryan Hince. The Bears are winners of their last five games, outscoring opponents 18-7 with two shutouts – one by each goalie. Offensively, former Peoria Rivermen center Garrett Vermeersch has had the hot hand during the streak with three goals and three assists. Mark Pustin, acquired by Knoxville in the trade that sent Todd Hosmer to Mississippi, is riding a three-game goal scoring streak.
- Tonight’s game is the final regular season match between the teams.
- Pensacola’s Corey Banfield – the current SPHL scoring leader – is now the career points leader for the Ice Flyers with 147. Banfield captured the record Sunday with a goal against the Columbus Cottonmouths, passing former Pensacola captain Ryan Salvis.
- If the playoffs started today, Knoxville and Pensacola would face each other in the first round – with the Ice Flyers having home ice advantage.
- The Ice Bears have the league’s top power play at home with a 20.0% conversion rate. Pensacola is successful at killing off 88.2% of opponents power plays on the road – 5th in the league.
- At 5-3-2, the Ice Bears have the second-worst record when leading after one period. Pensacola is a league-leading 2-2-0 when trailing on the road after 20 minutes.
- Columbus at Fayetteville – 7:05 ET
- Pensacola at Macon – 7:30 ET
- Huntsville at Louisiana – 7:05 CT