By Jeremy Berger
News Journal Correspondent
©The Pensacola News Journal
PENSACOLA, Fla. – The sign in the lower section of the Pensacola Civic Center said it all.
”We want No. 500.”
The Ice Pilots didn’t disappoint Friday, as Scott May scored two goals to help deliver Dave Farrish’s 500th regular-season career win as a head coach with a 3-2 decision over the Texas Wildcatters.
The victory was a franchise-record ninth in a row for Pensacola (31-11-4, 66 points), which opened a 10-point bulge atop the South Division. Second place Florida lost at Augusta (Ga.), 2-1.
Farrish was reflective on his milestone following the victory.
”I didn’t realize I was getting close to 1,000 games or 500 victories or any of that stuff,” Farrish said. ”It’s been a lot of fun. It goes by quick. It keeps me going to win hockey games and work with these young guys. They keep me young and keep me on my toes. It’s been fun.”
The forward line of May, Jordan Krestanovich and Alex Materukhin came through with two pretty goals to keep the Ice Pilots’ winning streak alive.
Midway through the second period with the game tied 1-1, May and Krestanovich worked an odd-man rush down the center of the ice.
Krestanovich received a pass from May to the right of the crease but was forced out of a shot and into the endboards by the Texas defense. Undeterred, Krestanovich fired a pass into the slot, where May one-timed it home to give Pensacola a 2-1 lead.
The Wildcatters (9-28-8, 27) tied it 2-2 with less than a minute remaining in the second period. May and Materukhin connected midway through the final period for the win.
Working behind the Texas goal, Materukhin was able to evade a stick check and swung a pass though the crease to May, who was able to bang home the backdoor goal to bring the crowd of 4,019 to its feet.
The performance further showed the month-old line is coming together nicely.
”I tinkered with the lineup a bit,” Farrish said. ”(The line) has been together for the last couple of weeks, and I really liked what I saw there. The team as a whole has really matured since our West Coast trip, and the players have learned to enjoy playing with each other and battle for each other, and it’s great to see.”
Defenseman Corey Neilson had given the Pilots an early 1-0 lead on assists from Krestanovich and Materukhin.
As big a night the line of May, Krestanovich and Materukhin had, Friday clearly belonged to Farrish.
”We knew it was a big night for Dave,” Krestanovich said. ”To get 500 wins in professional hockey is unbelievable and to see him get it was really special.”