By Danny Aller
Pensacola News Journal
PENSACOLA, Fla. – After a dismal 2005-06 season, the Pensacola Ice Pilots know one thing is true: What doesn’t kill you will only make you stronger.
That’s the attitude the team has taken into their 2006-07 campaign, which officially kicked off Tuesday when the Pilots took the ice for their first practice at the Pensacola Civic Center.
“We’re going to be younger than most teams this season, but that just means we have some young, hungry players who have something to prove and want to win,” said Pilots coach George Dupont, who took over the team midway through last season for fired coach Rick Adduono.
The team got in its first skate Tuesday with a roster of 27 players.
Pensacola will open its season in 10 days with a slimmed down roster of less than 20.
Unfortunately for Pilots fans eager to see what changes and improvements the team made during the offseason, the first three games will be on the road, beginning with the Cincinnati Cyclones on Oct. 20.
The Pilots won’t make their home debut until Oct. 27 when they play host to the Texas Wildcatters.
That’s the day Ice Pilots forward Dwayne Hay — a member of the Pilots’ 2004-2005 Brabham Cup championship team, who is back after a stint with the Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees last year — says fans will see a new and improved Pensacola squad, ready to recapture the glory days of old.
“I think we’ve got a lot of skill on this team this season and (the organization) has brought in the right guys. We just need to get to know each other and get some chemistry going early on and away we go,” Hay said.
“A lot of the responsibility (to recapture what we had) two years ago lies on the older guys, and it’s not about putting up big numbers, but instead coming out here and leading by example every day.”