LAFAYETTE -— Multiple call-ups by clubs in the East Coast Hockey League have caused the Louisiana IceGators to call upon a different goaltending plan going into a Friday night home contest at 7:05 p.m. against the Pensacola Ice Flyers.
Gators goaltenders Adam Courchaine and Eric Levine were loaned to Norfolk and Colorado, respectively of the ECHL. To fill that void, Louisiana signed Alex Vazzano to a contract and added Brent Troyan as an emergency goaltender.
Vazzano has four years of college experience at Vermont and Sacred Heart University. In his senior year at Sacred Heart in 2014-15, Vazzano had a 2.49 goals against average and a pair of shutouts.
“It was tough losing two goaltenders who could be two starters,” IceGator coach Drew Omicioli said. “To lose both in 18 hours was tough. Vazzano is game-ready and we feel confident he can get us a win.”
The Gators (6-7-2) are coming off a 4-3 overtime comeback win against second-place Fayetteville Sunday. Brad Bourke had a pair of goals in that victory. The Pensacola contest will continue a December stretch of 7 of 8 games at the Cajundome for the Gators. “We have to establish a home presence for any game, whether it is one game on Friday or three games in three nights,” Omicioli said.
In addition to the personnel changes in net, the Gators re-acquired winger Ben Rubin for Luke Kasteel in a swap with the Mississippi RiverKings. In 42 games with the IceGators last season, Rubin had 12 goals and 18 assists. He added a goal and an assist in the playoffs. The Gators also signed defenseman Patrick Harrison for a three-game tryout to help shore up the missing manpower due to a season-ending injury to defenseman Mitch Stretch.
“I told Alex Vazzano, ‘They (the Ice Flyers) are opportunistic and they throw a lot of pucks at the net,’” Omicioli said. “It’s like any other game you have played. Block shots, talk and communicate with your defense. Come in and steal a job.”
The task against Pensacola (8-6-1) involves facing a team that is fifth in the Southern Professional Hockey League with 46 goals. Winger Corey Banfield leads the league with 18 points (nine goals and nine assists). Center Adam Pawlick has five goals and eight assists. Making the Ice Flyers play at even strength will be one main ingredient of success. “Banfield and Pawlick do a tremendous job on their power play,” Omicioli said.