This spring baseball and hockey seasons are overlapping in Pensacola, as the Ice Flyers are keeping the Pensacola Bay Center (a.k.a. “The Hangar”) doors open for a little while longer. The hometown hockey team is making a run defending their 2013 title as the Southern Professional Hockey League (SPHL) Champions.
After defeating the Mississippi Surge in the first round of playoffs, the Ice Flyers will face the Knoxville Ice Bears in the semifinals for the third straight year, and the first game will be played Thursday night at the Bay Center.
“We’re feeling confident, but we also know that anything can happen in the playoffs. Knoxville just knocked off the No. 2 seed, so no series is guaranteed to be easy or to be won,” said Greg Harris, the Ice Flyers’ governor and owner. The second game of the series will be held in Knoxville on Friday and, should a series-deciding third game be necessary, hometown fans will be able to see the Ice Flyers vs. Ice Bears in a home game on Sunday, April 6.
“Our team is focusing on one game at a time and taking care of Thursday night before looking at Saturday,” Harris said, explaining that the Ice Bears pose special challenges. “They attack the puck quickly and their home arena is very small, so our time and space decrease drastically in Knoxville. We have to focus on quick puck movement and making decisions quicker than we would normally have to on a bigger ice sheet.”
In the midst of the playoffs, the team also received the good news that Joe Caveney, who plays left wing for the Ice Flyers, was selected as the Easton Rookie of the Year in a vote of league coaches, general managers and media representatives—just one more success to add to the excitement of the postseason.
As with all home games, Ice Flyers fans are encouraged to wear white to create a “White Out” in support of the team. But should fans forget to don their favorite ice-hued garment in their excitement over the playoffs, white “rally towels” will be available for $1 each and as will white playoff t-shirts for $10 each, which will feature the Ice Flyers’ playoff slogan, “Any Ice Is Home Ice.”
“We have so many dedicated fans that put so much time and money into supporting the team,” Harris said when asked about the local fan support, which included 2 team-organized busloads and hundreds of other fan-commuters in Biloxi for game two of round one. “Our fans were so loud over there, and that makes playing on the road even better for the team.”
As the old saying goes, there’s no place like home, and the Ice Flyers relish the chance to bring the championships to the Bay Center, according to Harris. “Our fan support is phenomenal and the atmosphere is like none other around here. The boys really enjoy home ice and their home crowd.”
Tickets for Game One of the semifinals are available through Ticketmaster and at the Pensacola Bay Center Box Office.
PENSACOLA ICE FLYERS VS. KNOXVILLE ICE BEARS
WHEN: 7:05 p.m. Thursday, April 3 at home (Game 1); 6:30 p.m. Saturday, April 5 at Knoxville (Game 2); 6:05 p.m. Sunday, April 6 at home (Game 3, only played if needed if needed to decide the semifinal champion).
WHERE: Pensacola Bay Center, 201 E. Gregory St.
COST: $22.25—$37.30 via ticketmaster.com
DETAILS: 466-3111 or pensacolaiceflyers.com