Get ready, hockey fans — the Brooklyn Aviators are taking flight again!
Brooklyn’s winter wonders are ready to cut up the ice at the Aviator Sports Complex at Floyd Bennett Field — and this time they’re not going to stop slapping pucks and punching out opponents until they come home with the coveted Commissioner’s Cup.
During their inaugural season last year, the scrappy squad finished with the best record in the Federal Hockey League — the same league featured in the Paul Newman classic “Slap Shot” — and put together a 21 game winning streak, but lost to the hated Akwesasne Warriors in the playoffs.
But this year will be different, explains coach Bob Miller. The 2011–2012 Aviators will be leaner, meaner, faster, and a whole lot bigger, and ready to take on any comers at the Hanger, he said.
“We’re putting together a more aggressive up front team with a little more size,” he said on Oct. 21, as he was rounding out the team’s roster. “We need bigger guys that hit hard and bring some more toughness.”
Miller said that at least seven members of last year’s squad, including star center Jesse Felton and right wing Andrew Scampoli, will be returning. The Aviators have also scooped up a few players from the Southern Professional Hockey League, including 6’2”, 215-pound Tommy Lee, a former Knoxville Ice Bear.
The Aviators new super-sized squad’s first test of the season will be a rematch with Akwesasne on Oct. 27. But Miller says he has nothing to prove to the team that snatched the Commissioner’s Cup away from him.
“We had a great four games against them,” Miller said. “We went out there and played some good hockey, but they came out on top.”
Still, Scampoli doesn’t mind rolling over the Warriors to get the first “W” of the season.
“The Aviators that are returning want to beat Akwesasne partly because of last year,” Scampoli said. “You may be satisfied with taking the penalty when you break your opponents leg, but he’ll be jumping for victory with the rest of team when that penalty costs you the game.”
But the Warriors may not be the Aviators’ only problem this season. A new squad coming out of hated-even-more New Jersey — the Outlaws — could be a threat. Both Miller and Scampoli have some history with the team’s general manager, Chris Firriolo.
Firriolo was the head coach of the Danbury Whalers last year — which the Aviators decimated to move to the finals. Scampoli and Miller also worked under Firriolo when he was head coach of the Brooklyn Aces — the Aviators predecessor that packed it in after one season at Floyd Bennett Field. If Miller and Scampoli have nothing to prove, then Firriolo certainly may when the two teams meet up at the Aviators home opener on Oct. 29.
Yet Miller expects to beat them, and have fun doing it.
“Having a good fun season means winning, because losing isn’t fun,” the coach said.
The Brooklyn Aviators home opener against the New Jersey Outlaws at Aviator Sports [3159 Flatbush Ave. in Floyd Bennett Field in Marine Park, (718) 758-7580] on Oct. 29 at 7:05 pm. Tickets $12 ($10 for seniors and children under 14). For information visit www.brooklynaviators.com.
Reach reporter Thomas Tracy at email@example.com or by calling (718) 260-2525.