Who needs Madison Square Garden when you can get all the puck-swiping, fist-swinging action right here in Brooklyn — and your New York Aviators won’t pull up on the reins this season until there’s blood on the ice and a championship trophy lifted over their heads.
The minor-league hockey team that makes its home at the Aviator Sports Complex at Floyd Bennett Field is a respectable 16-12, but with a sweep of its first- and second-place divisional rivals this past weekend, they showed that momentum is beneath their wings.
“We’re getting in the groove,” said coach Rob Miller, who’s guiding the team in its inaugural season under the auspices of the Federal Hockey League. “[The games] are getting way more intense.”
That they did last weekend.
It took a handful of key players — and their swinging fists — to bring down the upstate Thousand Islanders (20-9) on Saturday, 4-3. Center Angelo Serse smacked in two in the first period, and center Chris Holmes capped the scoring for the A’s with a gripping breakaway goal in the third that put the game out of reach — or so it seemed.
The Islanders, who defeated the third-place Aviators in their last three matchups, nearly stole the game late, only to be held off by the A’s — despite a slew of penalties in the final minutes.
In fact, Serse was sent to the sin bin two times in just four minutes in the third period — the second for jaw jacking — had an interesting reaction to the call while he went to sit down.
“It’s bull [poop]!” he said. “He hacked the [poop] outta me!”
That said, the games themselves are nothing to poo-poo.
At the Aviators’ arena, the seats are cheap, the fans can be rowdy and the players are bloodthirsty. Miller admitted that the frequent penalties on Saturday are the standard, but that’s what happens when “you see a lot of the same guys all the time — you start to hate them.”
Luckily, the Aviators didn’t have to worry about their own net during their enemies’ power plays. The goalie and star of the match, Kevin Druce, staved off a whopping 37 shots.
“We’re just more feisty than they are,” Druce said. “Whoever works harder is gonna win the game.”
It was the same story on Sunday night, when the Aviators decimated the first-place Akwesasne Warriors, 7-3.
But if Brooklyn intends to lift the coveted and as-yet-unnamed championship trophy (the CNG Cup, anyone?), it needs to start showing its dominance away from the comforts of home — while the team was 11–1 in Brooklyn as of this weekend, it’s just 5–11 on the road.
Fortunately, we don’t pay to see those games away from the Airfield.
Still with 26 games left — and 16 of them at home — the team is confident they can make the playoffs come March.
The Aviators continue its march toward glory this Thursday, Friday and Saturday at Aviator Sports Complex.
Hockey games at Aviator Sports Complex [Flatbush Avenue near Aviation Road in Marine Park, (718) 758-7500]. Thursday and Friday at 7:05 pm, Saturday at 7:35 pm. Tickets are $8. For info, visit www.newyorkaviators.com.pm, Saturday at 7:35 pm. Tickets are $8. For info, visit www.newyorkaviators.com.