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Ice Flyers choose rematch with Knoxville in opening round of SPHL playoffs

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Ice Flyers choose rematch with Knoxville in opening round of SPHL playoffs

By Bill Vilona - News Journal


Only hours after returning from their weekend games at Knoxville, the Ice Flyers chose to play the Ice Bears again to start the playoffs.

In a revamped  format that was approved by the Southern Professional Hockey League owners before the season, the top three teams in the final standings could select their first-round opponent. 

The third-seeded Ice Flyers picked No. 5 seed Knoxville, a team they beat Friday to seal a top three finish, then got a point Saturday from an overtime, shootout loss.

The teams will meet Thursday night at the Pensacola Bay Center to start the best of the three series. 

A second game will be Saturday in Knoxville, Tennessee, followed by a deciding game, if necessary at the Pelham Civic Center in Pelham, Alabama, home of the Birmingham Bulls, who did not make the playoffs

The Bay Center is booked this weekend with the U.S. Cheer tournament, a cheerleading and dance team competition for club teams across the nation.

The fact the Ice Flyers have to drive through Birmingham en route to Pensacola made it an easy choice with a possible deciding game in Pelham. It's a 271 mile trip south from Knoxville and a halfway distance to Pensacola for both teams.

"We were looking at a our couple of teams. We were thinking Knoxville and Roanoke might be the two open to us," said Ice Flyers owner Greg Harris, during a team playoff selection party Sunday at Buffalo Wild Wings.

"We were actually surprised by Peoria's pick just because they had a 10-3 record against (No. 6 seed) Evansville and they're only 4 hours away,": he said. "So we were surprised by that. But that's the great thing about it. We literally don't know until when we submit our pick."

Read more at: https://www.pnj.com/story/sports/2018/04/08/ice-flyers-choose-knoxville-face-opening-round-sphl-playoffs/497559002/

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