Pensacola Ice Pilots

The Pensacola Ice Pilots were a professional 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]

Pensacola Ice Pilots
CityPensacola, Florida
Home arenaPensacola Civic Center
ColorsNavy blue, gold
AffiliatesNew York Islanders
Franchise history
1989–1996Nashville Knights
1996–2008Pensacola Ice Pilots
Regular season titles1 (2004–05)
Division Championships1 (2004–05)
Conference Championships1 (1997–98)
Kelly CupsNone

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 and playersEdit


  • The 1997–98 Ice Pilots finished the season with a record of 36-24-10 and won the ECHL Southern Conference championship. The Ice Pilots advanced to their only Kelly Cup appearance against the Hampton Roads Admirals. The Ice Pilots took a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven Kelly Cup Final. But a scheduling conflict at the Norfolk Scope, the Admirals' home arena, forced a delay of nine days between Games 3 and 4. The Ice Pilots elected to stay in Virginia, rather than return to Pensacola for the week. The Admirals won Games 4 and 5 at home, then clinched the series in Game 6, in Pensacola.
  • The 2004–2005 Pensacola Ice Pilots won the Brabham Cup for the most points overall in the league during the regular season.



  • John Marks broke the ECHL record for most career coaching wins during the 2007–08 season and completed his ECHL coaching career with 491 ECHL victories.


Nashville KnightsEdit

  • 1989–90: Lost to Winston-Salem 4-1 in first round.
  • 1990–91: Did not qualify.
  • 1991–92: Did not qualify.
  • 1992–93: Defeated Dayton 3-0 in quarterfinals; lost to Toledo 4-2 in semifinals.
  • 1993–94: Lost to Wheeling 2-0 in first round.
  • 1994–95: Defeated Toledo 3-1 in first round; defeated South Carolina 3-1 in quarterfinals; lost to Greensboro 3-2 in semifinals.
  • 1995–96: Lost to Knoxville 3-2 in first round.

Pensacola Ice PilotsEdit

  • 1996–97: Defeated Tallahassee 3-0 in first round; defeated Richmond 3-1 in quarterfinals; lost to South Carolina 3-2 in semifinals.
  • 1997–98: Defeated New Orleans 3-1 in first round; defeated Charlotte 3-0 in quarterfinals; defeated Louisiana 4-2 in semifinals; lost to Hampton Roads 4-2 in finals.
  • 1998–99: Did not qualify.
  • 1999–00: Lost to Mississippi 2-1 in first round.
  • 2000–01: Did not qualify.
  • 2001–02: Lost to Mississippi 3-0 in first round.
  • 2002–03: Lost to Jackson 1-0 in qualifying round.
  • 2003–04: Lost to Louisiana 3-2 in first round.
  • 2004–05: Lost to Greenville 3-1 in first round.
  • 2005–06: Did not qualify.
  • 2006–07: Did not qualify.
  • 2007–08: Did not qualify.


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.[4] 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.[5] Instead the league formed a new team, Pensacola Ice Flyers owned by former NHL player Tim Kerr.[6]

Former Ice Pilots who have gone on to represent their country internationallyEdit

  • Evgeny Artyukhin ( ) - 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.
  • Gregor Baumgartner ( ) - Baumgartner returned to his native Austria and went on to be a star in the Erste Bank Eishockey Liga as well as make appearances for the Austrian National Team in World Championships and various tournaments.
  • Greg Chambers ( / ) - 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 ( / ) - 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 ( / ) - 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 ( ) - 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 ( ) - Ivanans represented Latvia in the Junior ranks before coming to the Ice Pilots. 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 ( / ) - Materukhin played for the Ice Pilots in 2004-2005 and has played in the 2005 and 2006 Elite Division World Championships as well as the 2008 Division 1 World Championship for the Ukrainian National Team. In 2018, the IIHF approved a one-time nationality change for Materukhin after he requested to represent Belarus. He will make his IIHF debut for the Belarusian National Team at the 2018 Men's World Ice Hockey Championships.[7]
  • Glen Metropolit ( ) - 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 represented his home nation in the 2006 IIHF World Championship playing for the Canadian National Team.
  • Corey Neilson ( / ) - 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.
  • John Tripp ( / ) - Canadian-born Tripp started his professional career in North America before signing with Adler Mannheim of the Deutsche Eishockey Liga. He acquired German citizenship and represented the German National Team in the 2010 Winter Olympics.


^ - They coached four games while Clark was away tending to his ailing mother.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "ECHL - Premier 'AA' Hockey League". Archived from the original on 2008-09-26. Retrieved 2008-06-23.
  2. ^ Evgeny Konstantinov Game Log (2000-01 NHL season)
  3. ^ TBL @ MTL, 11/5/2005
  4. ^
  5. ^[permanent dead link]
  6. ^ Blakeney, Jason (May 9, 2009). "Commentary: New team, new name, new opportunity". Pensacola News Journal. Archived from the original on May 14, 2009. Retrieved May 10, 2009.
  7. ^ "Materukhin with Belarus". 2 May 2018.

External linksEdit