Pensacola Ice Flyers: Birth of a Dynasty

13840421275_cecebff9db_zPENSACOLA, FLA – OK, maybe a repeat championship doesn’t necessarily make for a “dynasty.” 

But add in a few ingredients like the SPHL’s longest winning streak and the first ever 80-point regular season, and now your cape is flapping in the breeze.

In the end, it was a rematch of 2012 when the Cottonmouths topped Pensacola for the title in two straight contests that saw the Ice Flyers bowing down on their home ice after a 2 point loss.  This time Pensacola returned the favor with a punishing 9 – 1 first game victory, then sent two bus loads of supporters to Saturday night’s 5 – 1 pounding that left Columbus fans with plenty of opportunity to beat the traffic home.  The goals in game one alone against the Cottonmouth’s Olympian Shannon Szabados and Andrew Loewen (whose “Wobble” video is a YouTube sensation)  equalled all that Pensacola’s Ross MacKinnon allowed in the entire playoffs.

Pensacola simply played the last half of the season at a level the SPHL has never seen.

“I feel euphoric!” Podge Turnbull said.  “The way the team has played all year is just the icing on the cake of a great career.  I couldn’t be more blessed to have been a part of something this special.  I’m so thankful I was able to contribute and finish strong!  My family was with me tonight.  They are the team that started it all;   to have them there with me at the finish is beyond any words I could say!”

After slicing through the Mississippi Surge in two straight QF victories, the Ice Flyers had only one playoff loss to Knoxville in the SF opener – snapping their league record 13-game winning streak and handing Pensacola their first non-OT loss since Jan. 19.  The Ice Bears turned out to be the only real hindrance to Pensacola’s blitzkrieg to the cup.  In fact, the Ice Flyers finished the 3 game series with 122 shots against Knoxville’s tough netminder Bryan Hince but scored only 5 goals; one to an empty net.

“This was the goal from the beginning,” Joe Bueltel, the beloved Ice Flyer’s fighter and first featured player, said.  “The result came from hard work and determination – from the dressing room to the ice.  We had fantastic leadership this season to show us what we had to do.”

A dynasty team does more than win; does more than fight hard.  It sets a new standard for the level of play, like the 2014 SPHL Champion Pensacola Ice Flyers.

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