The Pensacola Ice Flyers had a good season. A really good season.
“The highlight would be winning the championship in front of 4,700 people in Pensacola,” said team owner Greg Harris. “It would have been great to win it anywhere, but it was great to do it at home.”
The Flyers clinched the franchise’s first Southern Professional Hockey League championship in April with a 2-0 victory against the Huntsville Havoc at their home rink inside the Pensacola Bay Center.
“Without being too cliché, it was a lot of hard work,” said Harris. “We had a team that didn’t give up, that could come from behind if they wanted to.”
Harris came on board following a 2011-2012 season that saw the Flyers make the playoffs. He joined owner, and former Philadelphia Flyers standout Tim Kerr and new head coach Gary Graham.
“Even though we made the finals we were in the middle of the pack during the regular season,” Harris said last fall. “This season we want to be in the front of the pack all year long. We’re going to be a high-paced, high-scoring, hard-hitting team this year. It’s going to be a completely different style of game from what our fans have seen in the past.”
The Flyers slugged their way through this season and ended up with the President’s Cup.
“On the ice, we had a lot of one-goal games,” Harris said, “but we came out on top of those.”
The owner said he was proud that the Ice Flyers were able to provide Pensacola with a championship—“I think people take pride in winning a championship”—and offered a nod to the fans that cheered them through the season.
“They’re extremely loyal and dedicated, that’s for sure,” Harris said.
The Ice Flyers have developed a relationship with their fans since hitting the rink in 2009. Some have enjoyed Pensacola hockey since the 1990s, as the Flyers follow in the footsteps of the Ice Pilots.
Harris said the team enjoys a reciprocal relationship with the community. Players and staff are encouraged to engage themselves off the rink.
“We are all about community,” Harris said. “We have our guys out visiting the schools, visiting the hospitals.”
At the onset of this past season, Harris announced that the team would be raising money for the Gulf Coast Kid’s House, among other charities. In addition, the Flyers’ opening home weekend would function as a food drive for Manna Food Bank.
“It’s great to support national charities, but we want to be sure that this year money that is raised in Pensacola stays in Pensacola,” he said at the time.
Harris said the Ice Flyers organization would continue to cultivate the relationship with the local community, as well as “increasing the fan experience.” Also, they’re shooting for another championship.
“We’re working hard again to come up with that right mix of individuals and players to wear an Ice Flyers jersey and hopefully have a repeat championship.”