Pensacola Ice Pilots

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Pensacola Ice Pilots
City Pensacola, Florida
League Formerly the ECHL
Founded 1989
Home arena Pensacola Civic Center
Colors Navy blue, gold
Affiliates New York Islanders
Franchise history
1989–1996 Nashville Knights
1996–2008 Pensacola Ice Pilots
Regular season titles 1 (2004–05)
Division Championships 1 (2004–05)
Conference Championships 1 (1997–98)
Kelly Cups None

The Pensacola Ice Pilots was a minor league ice hockey team located in Pensacola, Florida. The team was previously affiliated with the Tampa Bay Lightning, Toronto Maple Leafs, New York Islanders (2006–07), and the Chicago Blackhawks. They have also had a working agreement with the Houston Aeros of the AHL for the 04–05 season. On June 23, 2008, the ECHL announced that it had terminated the Ice Pilots' membership, effective immediately.[1]

The team's colors (navy blue and gold) and nickname were a tribute to the long history of Naval aviation in Pensacola (Naval Air Station Pensacola is home to the legendary Blue Angels and the National Museum of Naval Aviation).

The home of the Pensacola Ice Pilots was the Pensacola Civic Center, which was referred to as "The Hangar", and has a capacity of 8,150.

The Ice Pilots were formerly the Nashville Knights but moved to Pensacola following the 1995–96 season.

Notable achievements[edit]

  • In 1998 Kevin J Carr was named Executive of the Year. Pro Sports Media.
  • The 1997–98 Ice Pilots finished the season with a record of 36-24-10 and won the ECHL Southern Conference championship. The Ice Pilots advanced to their only Kelly Cup appearance against the Hampton Roads Admirals. The Ice Pilots took a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven Kelly Cup Final. But a scheduling conflict at the Norfolk Scope, the Admirals' home arena, forced a delay of nine days between Games 3 and 4. The Ice Pilots elected to stay in Virginia, rather than return to Pensacola for the week. The Admirals won Games 4 and 5 at home, then clinched the series in Game 6, in Pensacola.
  • Forward Glen Metropolit went on to play in the National Hockey League for the Washington Capitals. He played with the Boston Bruins in 2007–08. For the 2008–09 season, he signed with the Philadelphia Flyers.
  • Raitis Ivanans, currently playing for the Los Angeles Kings, played 59 games for Pensacola in 1999–2000, scoring 3g, 7a, and 146 penalty minutes. He is 6'3, 263 lbs and currently their enforcer.
  • Forward Ryan Craig played 5 games with the Ice Pilots before going on to play for the NHL (Tampa Bay Lightning). He has re-signed with Tampa Bay for 2008–09, after missing most of 07–08 with injuries.
  • Forward Evgeni Artukhin played 6 games for the Ice Pilots in 03–04 before playing 72 games for the Tampa Bay Lightning in 05-06. 72gms-4g-13a-17pts. After a couple of years in Russian leagues, he has re-signed with Tampa Bay for the 2008–09 season.
  • John Tripp played in 85 games for the Ice Pilots between 2000–2002. He appeared in 9 games for the New York Rangers in 2002–2003. In 2003–2004, he appeared in 34 games for the Los Angeles Kings. He is currently playing for the Hamburg Freezers, (08–09) of the Deutsche Eishockey Liga in Germany.
  • Goalies Brian Eklund and Evgeny Konstantinov made brief appearances for the Tampa Bay Lightning. Eklund in 05–06 in a 3-0 loss at the Montreal Canadiens. Konstantinov played 20 minutes in 02–03 giving up 1 goal on 5 shots.
  • Former Head Athletic Trainer Jason Serbus is currently (2008–09) the head athletic trainer for the Phoenix Coyotes of the National Hockey League. He was assistant the past three seasons for the Tampa Bay Lightning.
  • Former Equipment Manager John Krause was the Head Equipment Manager for the Iowa Stars of the American Hockey League(AHL). In 2008–09 season he will be the Head Equipment Manager for the San Antonio Rampage of the AHL.
  • Former Head Athletic Trainer Brad Chavis is now Head Athletic Trainer for the Syracuse Crunch of the American Hockey League. Chavis was a member of the 2012 Calder Cup Champion Norfolk Admirals, a team that won a historic 28 straight games to finish out the 2011-2012 season.
  • The 2004–2005 Pensacola Ice Pilots won the Brabham Cup for the most points overall in the league during the regular season.
  • Former Head Coach Dave Farrish (2004–2005),is now the Assistant Coach of the Anaheim Ducks in the NHL. After failing to win an ECHL championship with the Louisiana IceGators and Pensacola, he won the Stanley Cup with the Anaheim Ducks in 2006–2007.
  • Former Ice Pilot Kevin Colley, 23 games in 2000–01, is head coach of the Utah Grizzlies (08–09) of the ECHL. He also played for the New York Islanders in 2005–2006, until a career ending neck injury.
  • Head coach John Marks tied and broke the ECHL record for most career wins during the 2007–2008 season, and as of March 2 has 482 career wins.
  • Goalie Mike Brodeur won his NHL debut on December 19, 2009 when the Ottawa Senators beat the Minnesota Wild 4-1.
  • Power forward/enforcer Patrick Bordeleau made his NHL debut with the Colorado Avalanche following the conclusion of the 2012–13 NHL lockout.


Nashville Knights[edit]

  • 1989–90: Lost to Winston-Salem 4-1 in first round.
  • 1990–91: Did not qualify.
  • 1991–92: Did not qualify.
  • 1992–93: Defeated Dayton 3-0 in quarterfinals; lost to Toledo 4-2 in semifinals.
  • 1993–94: Lost to Wheeling 2-0 in first round.
  • 1994–95: Defeated Toledo 3-1 in first round; defeated South Carolina 3-1 in quarterfinals; lost to Greensboro 3-2 in semifinals.
  • 1995–96: Lost to Knoxville 3-2 in first round.

Pensacola Ice Pilots[edit]

  • 1996–97: Defeated Tallahassee 3-0 in first round; defeated Richmond 3-1 in quarterfinals; lost to South Carolina 3-2 in semifinals.
  • 1997–98: Defeated New Orleans 3-1 in first round; defeated Charlotte 3-0 in quarterfinals; defeated Louisiana 4-2 in semifinals; lost to Hampton Roads 4-2 in finals.
  • 1998–99: Did not qualify.
  • 1999–00: Lost to Mississippi 2-1 in first round.
  • 2000–01: Did not qualify.
  • 2001–02: Lost to Mississippi 3-0 in first round.
  • 2002–03: Lost to Jackson 1-0 in qualifying round.
  • 2003–04: Lost to Louisiana 3-2 in first round.
  • 2004–05: Lost to Greenville 3-1 in first round.
  • 2005–06: Did not qualify.
  • 2006–07: Did not qualify.
  • 2007–08: Did not qualify.


After the 2007–08 season, when the Ice Pilots had finished dead last for three consecutive years, team owner Mario Forgione announced he had no intention of fielding a team in Pensacola for the ECHL during the 2008–2009 season. Forgione announced plans to keep a team in Pensacola, but one in an unnamed, lower-level league. The ECHL then stated that it would revoke the franchise if need be, and the ECHL made it official on Monday, June 23, 2008.[2] On April 4, 2009, the SPHL announced discussions between potential investors, key government officials, local fans and business leaders in Pensacola, Florida relative to the award of a franchise for the 2009-10 SPHL season. However, the press release stopped short of explicitly stating that this expansion team would not be the Ice Pilots franchise owned by Mario Forgione.[3] Instead the league formed a new team, Pensacola Ice Flyers owned by former NHL player Tim Kerr.[4]

Former Ice Pilots who have gone on to represent their country internationally[edit]

  • Evgeny Artyukhin (Russia) - Artyukhin represented Russia on the U17, U18, and U20 teams but has only played sparingly for the Russian National Team due to his size and style of play not fitting the typical European style of hockey.
  • Gregor Baumgartner (Austria) - Baumgartner returned to his native Austria and went on to be a star in the Erste Bank Eishockey Liga as well as make appearances for the Austrian National Team in World Championships and various tournaments.
  • Greg Chambers (Canada/United Kingdom) - Canadian-born Chambers first played in the United Kingdom during the 2005-2006 season after spending 2004-2005 in Italy. He has played there ever since and acquired British citizenship and is now a member of the British National Team.
  • John Hecimovic (Canada/Croatia) - Hecimovic is Canadian by birth but his family still very much identified with their Croatian heritage. Hecimovic spent the 09-10 and 10-11 seasons with KHL Medveščak and was eligible to compete for the Croatian National Team at the 2012 IIHF World Championship Division II Group A tournament but a shoulder injury forced him to sit out. Hecimovic finally got his chance to skate for Croatia at the Olympic Preliminary Qualification tournament for the 2014 Sochi Games held in September 2012 in Zagreb.
  • Roger Holeczy (United States/Hungary) - American-born to Hungarian parents, Holczy played most of his career in America before heading to his parents' native Hungary where he went on to play for the Hungarian National Team.
  • Andreas Holmqvist (Sweden) - Holmqvist has represented Sweden both before and after his time in Pensacola. He played on the Swedish U20 team in the World Junior Championship as well as playing for the Swedish National Team in many tournaments and exhibition games.
  • Raitis Ivanans (Latvia) - Ivanans represented Latvia in the Junior ranks before coming to the Ice Pilots but in 2008 (after his second full NHL season) he played for the Latvian National Team in the 2008 IIHF Elite Division World Championship despite being known widely as an enforcer.
  • Aleksander Materukhin (Ukraine) - Materukhin played for the Ice Pilots in 2004-2005 and has since played in the 2005 and 2006 Elite Division World Championships as well as the 2008 Division 1 World Championship for the Ukrainian National Team.
  • Glen Metropolit (Canada) - Metropolit played for the Ice Pilots in 1996-1997 before making it to the NHL 3 seasons later. Despite playing mostly a journeyman's career Metropolit finally represented his home nation in the 2006 IIHF World Championship playing for the Canadian National Team.
  • Corey Neilson (Canada/United Kingdom) - Neilson is Canadian born and even represented Canada for two games in a non-IIHF event during the 1999-2000 season. He moved to the United Kingdom prior to the 2006-2007 season and has lived there ever since. He waited some time to get his British Citizenship but has done so and is now a member of the British National Team and will compete with them for the first time in the 2011 IIHF World Championship Division I Group B in Kiev, Ukraine.
  • John Tripp (Canada/Germany) - Canadian-born Tripp played his entire career in North America before signing with Adler Mannheim of the Deutsche Eishockey Liga. He acquired German citizenship and now plays for the German National Team.


^ - They coached four games while Clark was away tending to his ailing mother.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ ECHL - Premier 'AA' Hockey League
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^ Blakeney, Jason (May 9, 2009). "Commentary: New team, new name, new opportunity". Pensacola News Journal. Retrieved May 10, 2009. [dead link]

External links[edit]