PENSACOLA, Fla. – Most seasons, the expectation is for the Pensacola Ice Flyers to be one of the SPHL’s most consistent teams at home and on the road, and this year should prove no different following a season in which Pensacola’s hard-nosed style earned a sixth-place finish and clash in the postseason with eventual President’s Cup winner Peoria, where Pensacola forced the full three games before bowing out. Now, as the season begins, the goal to is build on last year and add yet another championship trophy to the case at the Pensacola Bay Center.
Last season in review
Record & Playoff Appearance: 31-9-6, 68 points. Finished sixth in SPHL standings and lost in the first round of President’s Cup Playoffs.
Season Summary: The roster had some newness to it for sure with a host of players with Pensacola for the COVID season no longer around, but not before helping win an SPHL title the year before. There was, as expected, some transition involved as others that had to be replaced included goalie Jake Kupsky. That transition showed early with just three wins in the first ten games of the season before steadying the ship before getting hot in April to win eight or nine games, locking up a postseason spot and securing momentum that pushed Peoria to the brink of elimination. Weiland Parrish and Marcus Russell were a big reason why as they combined for 108 points with Cody Karpinski and Sean Kuhn playing a combined 50 games with neither having a GAA above 2.79. Having a good part of its roster need replacing was hardly easy, but Pensacola managed the transition and put itself in a position to take another step forward this season.
Leading Scorer: Weiland Parrish, 57 points (15 goals, 42 assists)
Cody Karpinski played 20 games in between the pipes, having a 2.73 GAA to the 2.79 of Sean Kuhn in 30 appearances, but more impactful was the emergence of wingers Weiland Parrish and Marcus Russell who had 57 and 51 points to go with Brennan Blasczak’s team-best 32 goals.
Pensacola’s 189 goals for ranked them sixth with 164 against being seventh in the SPHL. The Ice Flyers were strong on special teams, second with a 24 percent power-play conversion rate and eighth on the penalty kill at 82 percent,
- Mitch Atkins received a strong look early on in camp given that he was among the players on ice. If Pensacola is looking for veteran locker-room leadership, Atkins could very well fit that bill coming off of playing in 53 games for Vermilion County last year and having played in the SPHL in some form since the 2018-19 season.
- In the sort of new department, Jan Salak, who played in 15 games for Pensacola is back looking for a bigger role. The same goes for Christian Pavlas, among those in goal as training camp began. He was in net five times last year in Pensacola, going 3-1-1.
- Russell’s departure will leave a void given his scoring output, so a new face or two will be needed to supplement the efforts of Parrish and Milan.
2022-23 Schedule Breakdown
The Pensacola-Huntsville rivalry kicks off fast with three matchups with the Havoc in Pensacola’s first four games. After that, it’s a steady balance of home and away games until six games in a row at home in the second half of January. The Ice Flyers get two trips way up north this year, to Evansville in November and Quad City in March. Pensacola will likely be wary of fatigue as that Quady City series is followed by an 11-game stretch to wrap up the season.
Top Storylines For 2022-23
Until last year, Jake Kupsky’s presence in net was a near-constant. If Pensacola is to take a step forward, having someone step up to win that job will be key.
With Russell gone, more opportunities may come the way of Weiland Parrish. If he continues moving forward, Pensacola could have one of the better1-2 punches in Parrish and Garrett Milan.
Prediction Sure To Go Right
Weiland Parrish makes an even bigger impact, ending as among the SPHL’s top five scorers.
Prediction Sure To Go Wrong
Through 20 games, Christian Pavlas will evenly split the goaltending duties with ten starts as Pensacola head coach Rod Aldolff seeks to find someone to take the No. 1 job.
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