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]


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] Rather, the new team will be known as the Pensacola Ice Flyers and be 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.
  • 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.


^ - 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]