Ice Flyers Get Blend Of New And Old To Get Home Win before New Year’s

By Bill Vilona , Ice Flyers Correspondent

A former player recently gave Ice Flyers coach Rod Aldoff a ringing endorsement to add Austin Fetterly to the team’s roster.

The impact was immediate.

Fetterly, 26, who was playing for the hometown Port Huron (Mich.) Prowlers in Federal Prospects Hockey League, put on a new uniform Thursday night, joined a higher-level league and helped lift the Ice Flyers with a pair goals in their 3-2 win against the Birmingham Bulls at the Pensacola Bay Center.

“He has done well for himself the last couple of years,” Aldoff said. “He wanted an opportunity and we had one. I was told he was a good skater, good competitor and great kid. So, we called him up, he got here and he’s making the best of it.”

In the final home game of 2021, the Ice Flyers entertained a crowd of 4,017 with a second holiday week win against the Bulls. The Ice Flyers won 3-1 on Sunday, post-Christmas Day.

Fittingly, too, in a game to ring in the New Year, an old acquaintance also played a big role. Jason Fabian, an Air Force Academy graduate, who played parts of three seasons (2014-2018) with the Ice Flyers, while stationed at Eglin Air Force Base, deflected home a power-play goal with 6:40 remaining that became the winning goal.

Birmingham (3-17-4), which has lost all six games, so far, against the Ice Flyers, scored its second goal six seconds after pulling goaltender Austin Lotz for an extra attacker with less than two minutes remaining.

That was followed by an Ice Flyers penalty with 27 seconds left, creating a 6-on-4 situation. But the Ice Flyers defense held strong, not allowing the Bulls another prime scoring opportunity during the entire advantage time.

“It was another grind,” Aldoff said. “And we’re grinding right now, so the guys battled and I’m happy for them. They worked hard and did what they had to do. A couple new guys scored the goals, so that was good to see.”

The Ice Flyers (12-8-3) immediately left Friday night for Knoxville, Tenn. where they will face the Knoxville Ice Bears on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day on Saturday.

The Ice Flyers have now played one-third of their schedule. They are two points behind the Fayetteville (N.C.) Marksmen for fourth place in the 11-team Southern Professional Hockey League.

“Considering everything that has been going on, I thought the guys have played very hard,” Aldoff said. “It’s a different kind of year. We have a good group of guys and we’re battling through a lot of adversity right now.”

“It’s been a big grind. But those guys, they show up every day. It’s a hard-working team and they are playing some good hockey.

After a scoreless first period, which included both teams being thwarted by goaltenders on point-blank shots, the Ice Flyers got the scoring started early into the second period.

Fetterly was in the right place for a favorable bounce off the boards behind the net and he wheeled into goal-crease area to slip a shot under Lotz’ leg pads for his first Ice Flyers goal.

After the Bulls tied the game, Fetterly broke free on a face-off to score won by Kyle Wendorf to score from inside the left circle with 3:16 left before intermission.

“Kyle went forward with it, instead of trying to win it back,” Aldoff said.  “In that situation, the other winger (Fetterly) goes to back post and it was wide open. It’s not a play you work on. It’s something everybody knows what to do.”

It became 3-1 when Fabion deflected a wrist shot from Troy Murray from inside the blue line as the Ice Flyers were on a power play.

Ice Flyers goaltender Cody Karpinski stopped 36 Birmingham shots to get another win.

“Our goalies have played very well,” Aldoff said. “They have not played a bad game. They have kept us in games. They have won games. They have just played tremendous.”

In the final two minutes, the Ice Flyers defensemen were able to control the puck and play keep-away for chunks of time. Birmingham never could set up in the Ice Flyers zone and the Bulls’ final rush was thwarted when time expired.

“We messed around too long,” Aldoff said. “That’s not what we want to do is mess around with the puck in our end when we have opportunities to get it up to wingers and get it over the red and it get it deep. But it worked and we’re here.”

The Ice Flyers next home game will be Jan. 7 and it will be Star Wars Night at the arena with players wearing specialty, Star Wars theme uniforms.