PENSACOLA, Fla. (WKRG) – “We have skill and physicality. We’re going to be a very fast team,” said Alec Hagaman. “I think our team will be special. I think we cover ever aspect you want out of a hockey team.”
This week, the Pensacola Ice Flyers became just one of a handful of teams to start playing hockey in North America.
“Usually this time of the year there is over 100 pro teams in North America playing hockey. Right now there’s 16, between us and the ECHL,” said head coach Rod Aldoff. “You do the math on how many players aren’t playing, so we’re very fortunate.”
Only five of the 10 SPHL teams decided to play this season, making the competition on the ice tougher than ever.
“We’re adding a lot of great players to the league which is nice. The product on the ice for the fans will be the best it’s ever been,” said captain Garrett Milan.
For the guys that opted in and are lacing up the skates, it’s the first time they’ve really skated since the COVID-19 pandemic began.
“I live in a small community in Canada and our rink was closed for most of the summer. I was fortunate, once it did open I ran some skill camps with kids so I could get on the ice,” said Milan.
“It was definitely challenging to get in a rhythm in that sense. I’m grateful to be here and have the chance to skate everyday and be playing again,” said Patrick Megannety.
The team is doing their best to stay in a bubble environment during the season, with players getting an approved list of stores and restaurants the team says are safe to go to.
They also plan to take advantage of Florida’s weather to get outside and build team chemistry on the beach and golf course.
“One upside of playing in Florida is the nice weather, you can go outside and enjoy the day and you’re not curled up inside in your winter jacket,” said Hagaman.
It will be a SPHL season unlike any we’ve ever seen, but it could end in familiar fashion for the Ice Flyers.