Marks Emphasizes Effort, Hustle To Young Ice Pilots

By Bill Vilona
Pensacola News Journal

PENSACOLA, Fla. – Near misses. Blown chances. Infrequent opportunities.

The summation has been a void in goal-scoring for the Pensacola Ice Pilots, who realize the trend must end for more wins to ensue.

The Ice Pilots (1-3-1) have a prime opportunity with their next four games at home, beginning at 7:05 p.m. Friday against the Texas Wildcatters (2-1-1). The two teams meet again Saturday at The Hangar.

“We’ve had three or four pucks roll across the goal line, we’ve had a couple other shots hit the post,” Ice Pilots coach John Marks said. “If you work for it, luck is going to turn to your side, because you earn your own luck, too.”

“Slowly we’re forming better habits and the guys are going to get rewarded. The harder you work, the more opportunities you get.”

Among the ECHL teams playing at least five games, no other team has scorer fewer goals (10) than the Ice Pilots. Defenseman Jean-Claude Sawyer is the only Ice Pilots’ player in the top 50 of league scorers. He has two goals and four assists.

“He certainly proved he has ability with the puck. He sees the ice, passes it well, shoots it well, and sees where people are,” Marks said. “He has a lot of confidence with the puck, and that’s another big difference between goal scorers and non-goal scorers — having confidence with the puck.”

Marks has stressed to a young team that goal-scoring is a by-product of effort, hustle and constant grinding.

“I know there are guys on our team who haven’t scored yet,” Marks said. “And they are starting to wonder, and say, ‘Gee when am I going to score?’ We’ll take a look at the mirror. You have to ask, ‘Am I working as hard as I need to be working? Am I getting myself in position to make myself available for my linemate?’

“If you want to get into position, you have to work to get there.”