PENSACOLA, FLA – November was a typical month for Justin Alonzo. Typical for a hockey player on injured reserve, that is. Meet and greets with the fans, hanging with fans and booster club members watching live feeds of away games, and attending home games suited up – in a suit.
Alonzo joined the Ice Flyers just before the playoffs a season ago, when his fourth season ended with the NCAA Div. III Castleton State College. While with the Spartans, he played 97 games with 116 points (34 goals and 82 assists) and 184 penalty minutes. In his short nine-game run with Pensacola last year, he put up 2 assists, 6 penalty minutes and a plus-2 rating.
During the Nov. 3rd contest with the Louisiana Ice Gators, Alonzo was struck in the knee as he was cutting across the middle of the ice and suffered a bone contusion. It was a disappointment to Alonzo and the fans having him sidelined so early in the season. During these last four weeks on IR, he has stayed close to fans and kept his focus on the team.
Then on the afternoon of Nov. 30th Alonzo received a call that coach Rod Aldoff had received a one game suspension for throwing a water bottle during the previous night’s game, which by coincidence was with the Ice Gators. Andrew Rodgers, a former right winger for the Pensacola Ice Pilots was called in to coach the game against the Huntsville Havoc and Alonzo was asked to assist. So once again, Alonzo would be suited up in the player’s box only this time in Armani and not in a jersey.
With tensions high from a three-game losing streak, little did the fans know what excitement they were in for. With a few of the most spectacular fights of the season as a backdrop, Pensacola had its best scoring night of the season in bringing home a 7-3 win in front of over 3,500 victory-hungry fans. After a second period tie-breaking goal was disallowed, the Ice Flyers went on a scoring rampage to take control of the contest. The deluge started with a Paul Rodrigues off of a Drew Baker assist. From that point on, 6 different Ice Flyers put up points, including a dazzling performance by Brett Lutes who dragged the puck in solo and went five-hole for a goal with 15:11 left.
“We had no intention of losing tonight’s game,” Alonzo said. “Although we would be professional, we were going to do whatever it took to win.”
So with coach Aldoff watching from the concourse, that is exactly what they did.
Alonzo’s coaching career – at least at this point – could be done later this week. He is expecting to dress and skate in the Ice Flyers next home game against the Mississippi RiverKings on December 6th.
“I’m healed and ready to play,” Alonzo said.
Having had a brief taste of coaching, it is too early to say whether it will be a future career but it is entirely possible that someday some reporter may just be interviewing Coach Alonzo.
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