The head coach search is over for the Ice Flyers as the team has announced the return of SPHL championship coach Gary Graham behind the bench.
“I am ecstatic to be back in Pensacola,” Graham said. “I plan to put an entertaining and championship-caliber team on the ice and continue the great tradition that is Ice Flyer Nation. I want good professionals wearing our shield and team colors. They are going to be tough to play against, they are going to fun be to watch every night, and they are going to be contributors to the local Pensacola community.”
“I am truly excited to have Gary back and for him to be leading our players once again,” Ice Flyers owner Greg Harris stated. “Gary has gained tremendous experience and has had success after being here in Pensacola. But it was his familiarity with our organization, with our culture, with me, with where we have been and with where we want to go that aligned with the attributes and intangibles I want in our new head coach.”
Graham accepted Harris’ offer yesterday, and coincidentally, on July 12, 2012, the Ice Flyers first introduced Graham to the fans at the Bay Center. What followed was their new head coach following through on his promises and brought the Ice Flyers their first championship in a thrilling championship series against the Huntsville Havoc that concluded with a 2-0 victory on home ice in front of a packed house. It was not only the Ice Flyers first, but also the city of Pensacola’s first professional team championship.
In the summer of 2013, Graham returned to his hometown of Fort Wayne, Ind. to be the head coach of the Fort Wayne Komets of the ECHL. He amassed a coaching record of 251 wins, 130 losses and 51 losses, including four seasons with more than 40 wins. Recently, he was the head coach for the Omaha Lancers of the USHL and for the Nottingham Panthers of the EIHL in England.
Graham added, “I have followed the team closely over the past 10 years. Rod and I have talked and will continue to talk numerous times each week, and we have become close friends. It has been exciting to see what Greg, Rod and the Ice Flyers have accomplished.
Pensacola is a premier location in minor pro hockey with an incredible fan base, great community support and a lot of success with multiple championships, all while surrounding the team with the Gulf Coast location. It’s a tradition that I am proud to be a part of the history and now a part of the future.
I look forward to seeing all the fans, sponsors, media and the countless other supporters that I got to know during my time in Pensacola years ago.”
The Ice Flyers will host a formal meet and greet to welcome back Graham to the fans closer to the season.