Ice Flyers Produce A Night To Remember With Blue Angels, Special Uniforms, Shutout Win

November 12, 2023

by Bill Vilona

If this were possible, the Ice Flyers’ much-anticipated Blue Angels Night on Veterans Day exceeded its own lofty expectations.

The uniforms wowed. So did the crowd. The arena was loud. And the team’s dominating performance made a Pensacola treasure proud.

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In an almost too-great-to-be-true experience inside the Pensacola Bay Center, the Ice Flyers started the game with two goals in the first 90 seconds, added two more in a 25-second span later in the first period and went on to a 6-0 victory against the Knoxville Ice Bear amid a crowd of 6,017 in the arena.

“An event like this, the front office with (team owner) Greg (Harris) and his crew have been working on this event for a year,” said Ice Flyers coach Gary Graham. “You put in a lot of work behind the scenes to get to this point, then you get the crowd in the building and then it’s up to the boys (players) to go ahead and put on the effort and put on the performance and they took care of business.

“What a special night. With the Blue Angels pilots in, with it being Veterans Day, the environment was unreal. The uniforms, creativity from Greg and his team about how good we looked. And it’s look good, play good, right? And that is kinda the type of night it was.”

From the Ice Flyers pregame entrance, it was followed by the ceremonial puck drop featuring Commander Alexander “Boss” Armatas, the commanding office of the Blue Angels, the U.S. Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron based at Naval Air Station-Pensacola

When the game ended, the Ice Flyers players were joined in a center-ice salute with the Blue Angels and support staff and a photo was taken that will be a keepsake memory.

“Those guys are obviously very talented at what they do and I’m sure they had a great time coming out and seeing us and seeing those jerseys,” said Ice Flyers defenseman Zac Herrmann, who scored two goals in the game. “Pretty cool tribute for us. Yeah, it was a super fun night.”

The Ice Flyers wore specially-crafted uniforms, made by OT Sports and approved by the Blue Angels, were complimented by yellow gloves and helmets, made by Warrior Hockey to complete the look.

The game-worn jerseys were then part on auction that will conclude Monday.

The Ice Flyers pulled off the rarest feat in working with the Blue Angels and their legal team to make a night like Saturday possible. It became something unique in professional

sports and happened just one week from the Blue Air Angels homecoming air show at Naval Air Station-Pensacola to close out their 2023 national schedule.

“It’s the most fun I’ve ever had playing hockey,” said Ice Flyers goaltender Kaden Fulcher, 25, an Ontario native, who played a game in 2019 in net for the Detroit Red Wings and has played on a several different American Hockey League teams – the next highest level to the NHL – during his career.

He stopped all 29 shots Saturday to record his second shutout in three days, his first at the Bay Center and reacted with visible emotion afterward.

“These guys are probably the best group of guys I have met in my life, so I am really excited to spend this year with them,” Fulcher said.

The win Saturday enabled the Ice Flyers (6-3) to record their third win in three nights, beginning with the 4-0 road shutout win at

Birmingham on Thursday, followed by Friday’s 5-4 win against Knoxville.

This latest one left no doubt.

Just 1-minute, 10-seconds into the game, Cooper Jones scored on an assist from team captain Garrett Milan. Hermann, who is playing with his younger brother, Lucas, an Ice Flyers center, for the first time in a long while, scored the game’s second goal 10 seconds later.

“Me and Coops were talking after that shift and we have never, ever had that happen before where two d (defensemen) scored on the first shift,” Herrmann said. “So obviously that creates a lot of momentum for the team and the crowd and it’s easy to build off that kind of stuff.”

Six minutes later, Mitch Atkins scored on a power play goal. Jordan Henderson followed 25 seconds later to find the back of the net and suddenly it’s 4-0 with more than 13 minutes left in the first period.

“It was great,” Graham said. “We talked about having a great start. That is very important for us on home ice to make sure we can kind of get the crowd involved in it right away.

“I have been on the other side of it, too, (down 4-0), so I try to enjoy while I can, because the way that hockey is have been on the other side too, so you try and enjoy it while you can.”

At that point, Knoxville pulled its goaltender Cody Karpinski and put in Kristian Stead. In the second period, Herrmann got his second goal, then Ivan Bondarenko broke free in the third period and made a nifty move to get the puck past Stead for a 6-0 lead.

It all led into an unforgettable night for the players and the Ice Flyers franchise, which is celebrating its 15th season and attracted more than 11,000 fans in two weekend games against Knoxville.

“It’s really hard to find words to describe it, to be honest,” Fulcher said. “The guys opened up out there, four quick ones in the first (period). We

knew going in how special this night was, how special it was for the community. And just to see the support from the fans for the Navy and for us, it was unbelievable.

“I think when I look back at the end of my career, this is going to be one of those games that is going to be very hard to beat.”


WHO: Ice Flyers vs. Birmingham Bulls

WHEN: Nov. 17-18

WHERE: Friday’s game in Birmingham at 7:05 p.m.. Saturday at Bay Center, 7:05 p.m.


One Response to “Ice Flyers Produce A Night To Remember With Blue Angels, Special Uniforms, Shutout Win”

  1. Rodney on November 13th, 2023 1:41 pm

    Great to see coverage of the 4 time champions.