By Bill Vilona, Contributing Writer for the Pensacola Ice Flyers
Pensacola, Fla. (Feb. 10, 2020) – The Ice Flyers’ scoring struggles continued Sunday in another agonizing way.
After getting a tying goal late in the second period, sending surge of emotion on their bench and among the Pensacola Bay Center crowd, the Ice Flyers were unable to sustain the boost and eventually lost 2-1 in overtime against the Quad City Storm.
The Storm barreled through Pensacola with three wins in three nights. All in similar fashion. The Ice Flyers generated numerous chances in each game, a barrage of shots, but fate continued being unkind.
“When the hockey gods are on your side, it’s great, but when they’re not, they kick you in the pants and you got to take it,” said Ice Flyers coach Rod Aldoff, offering the perfect summation.
“It’s the same story, we’re just not scoring.”
The solace is the Ice Flyers will remain in town and work on resolving the scoring drought in practices this week before facing the Macon Mayhem on Friday and Saturday at the Bay Center. The Ice Flyers (19-8-8) have nine home games left in the season.
“You got to clear your mind,” said Aldoff, whose coaching career has brought him experience in dealing with down stretches like this one. “You can’t dwell on it. (Players) know. We will talk about it. The power play… we’ll work on that a lot.
“It is a mindset. That’s a powerful thing on the good side and the bad side. There is only one way out and that’s to keep working. We gotta move on. Just be focused and be ready for Macon on Friday.”
After starting the season with a 7-0 home record, including a pair of wins against Quad City back on Nov. 16-17, the Ice Flyers have suddenly gone the other way.
Sunday was the sixth consecutive home game where the Ice Flyers either lost in overtime (4 times) or the regulation-play losses against Quad City (14-16-6) the previous two nights this weekend.
“We’re playing hard. We’re skating well,” Aldoff said. “We’re getting opportunities. It would bother me more if we weren’t getting opportunities. It’s frustrating. But you just have to keep going.”
After Quad City goaltender Peter Di Salvo, who played for the Ice Flyers his pro rookie season seven years ago, proved a difficult riddle on Friday and Saturday, it was backup Ryan Mulder’s turn Sunday.
He stopped 36 shots on goal, including all seven by Ice Flyers’ scoring star Garrett Milan.
After the Storm took a 1-0 lead into the first intermission, it was Milan who helped set up Brett D’Andrea for a tying goal with 1:11 left in the second period. Patrick Megannety had the lead assist. It was the Ice Flyers first goal in four periods against the Storm.
In the third period, the Ice Flyers had two power play chances in the first four minutes. But they could not get a close range shot into the right spot.
The period stayed scoreless, forcing the Ice Flyers into their 13th overtime game this season. After getting control of the OT faceoff, the Ice Flyers spent the first minute in Quad City’s zone. But when the Storm had their chance in the Ice Flyers’ zone, Tommy Telcos scored the game-winner on a wrap-around shot.
“When you are in (current struggles) those kind of things go in. We had 10 of those kind of chances (Sunday) and they went through the crease and the other way,” Aldoff said.
After at least one day of rest, Aldoff plans to try and implement practice drills to spur a difference in scoring touch and shooting accuracy before the next set of games.
“There’s a few guys who have gotten Grade-A opportunities and 90-percent of the time we’re missing the net,” he said. “So it is what it is. You got to shoot with a purpose and that’s focus. It’s mental.
“This week we’ll focus on putting pucks in the back of the net. It’s confidence, but you don’t gain conference from something else. You got to do it. Someone is not going to hold your hand to do it. You have to go shoot pucks after practice.
“We just have to be relentless and keep hammering away. It will turn. It will go. You get one, you get two and it creates a different mindset for the players and for the team.”
“Goaltending has been terrific all season long. We’re moving the puck north quickly. For the most part our defensive play has been pretty good. The switch will flip here soon. We’re just going to keep working and do it as a team. It’s a team thing and we’ll fix it as a team.”
ICE FLYERS GAME NOTABLES
The Ice Flyers honored Pensacola area law enforcement and medical emergency personnel on First Responders Night. It included 35-percent off tickets for First Responders and their families.
After the game, and even with the players feeling glum, they all signed autographs for fans on the arena concourse in a scheduled team autograph event.