Ice Flyers Twice Rally, But Fall Late In OT To Quad City

By Bill Vilona

Ice Flyers Correspondent

If facing the league’s second-hottest team right now provided a gauge, the Ice Flyers left Friday night with a good assessment.

They twice produced tying goals – the second one with less than three minutes remaining – only to have misfortune strike in a 4-3 overtime loss against the Quad City Storm at the Bay Center.

The Storm’s Michael Moran, who scored the game’s first goal with a deflection, produced the OT game winner with a top-corner wrister while on an unusual power play. It came with the Ice Flyers’ David Asselin in the penalty box for failing to immediately leave the ice when his helmet was dislodged.

“It was a big point. I thought our guys deserved better,” said Ice Flyers coach Rod Aldoff reflecting on getting a measure of solace with a point for the regulation-play tie.  “But it was a hard-fought game by both teams… back and forth.

“We played a lot of good hockey. It came down to those couple things that were kinda off the charts that we could have avoided. We’ll get there. We are getting close. And when we do…. this team is working extremely hard.”

Quad City (10-1-1), located in Moline, Illinois, won its 10thconsecutive game, after opening the season with a regulation-play loss, then an OT shootout loss. The Ice Flyers are now (4-4-2) with three of their losses against the unbeaten Huntsville Havoc (12-0).

The Ice Flyers face the Storm again tonight at the Bay Center in a special promotional night to celebrate Pensacola’s 25 years of having hockey in town.

They nearly kicked off the party a night early. Griff Jeszka tied the game with 2:38 left, after finishing a perfect backhand pass from Marcus Russell with 2:36 left in the game.

The Ice Flyers had several chances early in the overtime. But with 2:36 left in the 5-minute, extra period, Asselin had his helmet ripped free by Quad City’s Taylor Price during a rush inside the blue line. Asselin kept playing, which resulted in being whistled for an equipment violation penalty.

Moran score the game-winner during the 4-on-3 power play 45 seconds later.

“If you lose your helmet, you have to pick it up and go to the bench,” Aldoff said. “You can’t join the play (for puck possession). That was the mistake that was made.

“It was the right call. If it was pulled off and the ref caught it, he should call a penalty on them, but obviously he didn’t see it. But at the end of day, you either have to go pick it up, or go to the bench.”

The sequence became a tough end to what had been a resilient night for the Ice Flyers. They trailed 2-0 less than five minutes into the game. Both Quad City goals were scored off deflections from wrist shots just inside the blue line.

“They were deflections and we should have sticks (to thwart),” Aldoff said. “We have to figure that out.”

Later in the first period, Dalton Young got the crowd aroused with his goal on a wrist shot through traffic from inside the blue line. The score stayed that way until the third period.

Jeszka tied the game near midpoint of the final period. Seven minutes later, Quad City regained the lead. And then Jeszka answered. “

“I thought we had the momentum most of the game,” Aldoff said. “We were playing well. We were playing hard, having opportunities.”

The Ice Flyers will get another chance tonight while wearing custom-designed jerseys to commemorate the 25th season of hockey’s arrival when the Pensacola Ice Pilots in 1996 joined the ECHL.

That same season, Aldoff was playing in the former International Hockey League as a defenseman with the Utah Grizzlies.

“It’s going to be a great night,” he said. “It says a lot of about our community and our organization. Twenty five years is a long time and it will be good to see some old players.”

Two of those players, former Ice Pilots stars Glen Metropolit and goaltender Sean “Goats” Gauthier were at the Bay Center watching Friday’s game and will be part of a day-long celebration Saturday beginning with a fan reception at 4 p.m. at Seville Quarter.

Nine former Ice Pilots and Ice Flyers players will be at the event, including both team franchise leading scorers – Chad Quenneville (Ice Pilots) and Corey Banfield (Ice Flyers).