Aviators hang up their hockey sticks

Aviators hang up their hockey sticks
Photo by Steve Solomonson

The Brooklyn Aviators won’t be coming back to Floyd Bennett Field, according to the minor league team’s head coach.

Coach Rob Miller confirmed fears that the two-year-old hockey squad would be going the way of the Brooklyn Dodgers on Monday after signing on to lead a new crew of stick men in Georgia.

Miller said he accepted the coaching gig with the Augusta River Hawks after he was told that the A’s wouldn’t have a third season at the Aviator Sports and Events Center.

“There’s no more team in Brooklyn,” he said.

Calls to Aviators Sports and Events Center and the Federal Hockey League, the organization the Aviators skated under, were not returned by our Monday night deadline, but whispers about the team’s demise began in March, when team owner Brian O’Donahue admitted that he was looking for new investors.

“It’s no secret that this hockey team is not a money-making operation, but we know it can be,” O’Donahue told this paper. “That’s why we’re looking for alternate sources of income. We’re taking it step by step and hope that nothing about the team will change.”

Miller said the team had become more trouble than it was worth for Aviator owners.

“They just decided to rent the ice to the high schools and other places, and not really have to worry about a team,” the former A’s coach said.

The former A’s coach said he is expecting to make the move south next month — and he plans to take a few of his former players down south with him.

“Nothing’s official yet, but I am talking to some of them,” Miller said.

Still, he says he’s going to miss his time at the Hangar.

“It was fun,” he said. “It gave me my first opportunity to coach professional hockey, it’s got a little place in my heart for sure.”

The Brooklyn Aviators exploded onto the minor-league skating scene during the Federal Hockey League’s premier 2010-2011 season. The A’s won 21 straight games during its freshman year, ending the season as the Federal Hockey League’s top-ranked team before falling to the hated Akwesasne Warriors in the fourth round of the Commissioner’s Cup series.

Last season was less impressive: the Aviators finished in fourth place before being defeated by the Danbury Whalers in the first round of the playoffs.

Reach reporter Colin MIxson at [email protected] or by calling (718) 260-4514.