Ice Flyers Have Another Special Saturday Crowd On Mardi Gras Night, But Fall In OT Against Macon

January 21, 2024

by Bill Vilona, Ice Flyers Correspondent

For so much of Saturday night, the good times rolled and reverberated through all levels of the building on the annual Mardi Gras Night.

Unfortunately for the Ice Flyers and their loyal fans, there was silence at the end.

For more photos, click here.

In another gut-punch to a team struggling for a turnaround, the Macon Mayhem got a tying goal with less than four minutes left in regulation play, thwarted an Ice Flyers power play late in overtime, then won the shootout for a 3-2 victory before a crowd of 7,032 at the Pensacola Bay Center.

“I feel bad for the boys, they deserved a better outcome,” said Ice Flyers coach Gary Graham. “We put a lot of effort out there and can’t find a way of winning games. We keep finding ways of losing games. Again, we dominated the play, dominated the scoring chances, we were disciplined, won the special teams battle.

“You do everything you are supposed to do to win hockey games.”

Right now, it just hasn’t happened. The Ice Flyers sustained their ninth loss in the past 10 games. Macon (8-18, 5 OT losses), battling to get out of last place in the Southern Professional Hockey League standings, rebounded after a 7-3 home loss Saturday against Roanoke – the team the Ice Flyers will face next week on the road.

But the element which has continued to shine all season for Pensacola is the crowd support at the Bay Center. This was the third consecutive Saturday home game where the Ice Flyers have drawn crowds of 7,000-plus fans for a non-discounted game. It has never happened before in the 15-year history of the franchise.

It began with the 7,159 on Dec. 30, then a new franchise record of 7,243 a week ago.

“It has been great,” Graham said. “The thing is, we went on that record streak here (9-0 start at home) early on in the year, and now we can’t get the job done, which is disappointing. We spoiled the fans a little early on, and now we’re not coming through, so it’s always disappointing when the crowds are great, and you want to play great in front of them.

“I do think our team has played good these last couple games. We’ve played hard. For three straight (home games), I feel like the guys have really given the effort and I hope the fans recognize that.”

Once again, the Ice Flyers had to battle from early adversity.

Macon scored just 19 seconds into the game and before much of the crowd had even settled into seats. The Mayhem’s Michael McChesney deked his way past an Ice Flyers defenseman and wristed a shot past goaltender Kaden Fulcher, who was playing his first game back for the Ice Flyers since November when he was called up to the higher level ECHL.

At one point in the opening period, the Ice Flyers had an 11-1 edge in shots on goal and finished the period with a 14-6 advantage without a goal.

That changed with 12:45 remaining in the second period when Lucas Herrmann got a terrific pass from Reggie Millette and got the shot past Macon goaltender Jimmy Poreda, who wound up stopping 34 of 36 shots, along with all five attempts in the overtime shootout.

“He came up big for them,” said Herrmann. “I thought we had a lot of good chances on him. This week we just have to work on bearing down and getting more stuff to the net.

“Coach (Graham) was preaching that after the game that we needed to start funneling more pucks and crashing the net harder when we’re on a skid like this. We have to create our own luck.”

Midway through the third period, Herrmann’s older brother, Zac, gave the Ice Flyers a 2-1 lead and sent an explosive roar through the crowd when his slap shot from inside the blue line on a power play chance went through a screen in front of Poreda and into the net.

“Our power play has been moving around really well lately, and it was nice to see one finally go in there,” said Lucas Herrmann.

But Macon tied the game with 3:54 left in regulation play when Mayhem newcomer Lane King scored his first goal for the team after a shot block bounced his way.

“Their tying goal was a tough break for us,” Lucas Herrmann said. “We had a really good shot block there and just an unlucky bounce. But I thought we did a lot of good things tonight and we do appreciate the crowd. I wish we could have pulled that out for them.”

The Ice Flyers were in position to pull it out when Macon’s Billy Jerry was whistled for a holding penalty with 1:14 left in the overtime. The Ice Flyers had several good looks, several hard shots, but Poreda made the stops.

And then in the five-player shootout, Macon’s Alex Laplante, the team’s first shooter, wristed a shot through Fulcher’s pads. All five Ice Flyers shooters were thwarted to end the game.

“Guys are here to do a job. If you’re paid to be offensive, you put those guys out there on the ice… and we have some guys with dry spells right now,” Graham said. “We’ve got to try and change some things up and maybe move some lines around.

“I hate doing that, but at this point as a coach, you have to entertain all things to get the team going in the right direction.”

For more photos, click here.


WHO: Ice Flyers vs. Roanoke Rail Yard Dawgs

WHEN: Friday-Saturday (Jan. 26-27), both games at 6:05 p.m. CST.

WHERE: Berglund Center, Roanoke, Va


One Response to “Ice Flyers Have Another Special Saturday Crowd On Mardi Gras Night, But Fall In OT Against Macon”

  1. Coach Bell on January 21st, 2024 1:41 pm

    They look like the old Mobile Mysticks