Leslie Turk

Struggling IceGators get new coach

by Leslie Turk

The Louisiana IceGators, 2-5, announced today that John Gibson has joined the professional hockey team as head coach. He replaces Ron Handy, who is now the IceGators assistant GM, focusing on community relations and off-ice operations.

An original IceGator, Handy says his main goal was to bring hockey back into Louisiana. "Now, I want to concentrate on the team’s visibility within the community,” he says.

Brent Sapergia, the team’s president and GM, served as interim head coach since late October, when the team was 0-3. On Oct. 30, the IceGators chalked up their first win of the season, defeating the Pensacola Ice Flyers 3-2 at Blackham Coliseum. The following night they defeated the Mississippi Surge 5-4 in a shootout.

The IceGators play the Fayetteville FireAntz at home this Friday. Game time is 7:05 p.m.

Gibson, a player and coach, guided the Huntsville Channel Cats to a championship in 2004. “We have a group of quality players, and I am confident we will head in the right direction in no time,” Gibson says. “Although we are facing a little adversity, we will come out as [a] stronger team because of it.”

Gibson will be available to meet the media today at 3 p.m. at the IceGators office, 2815 Johnston St., in the South College Shopping Center. Tonight at 7, he joins fans and boosters at Brewski’s, next to Todd’s Car Wash on Johnston Street, for Monday Night Football.

The IceGators franchise is owned by local businessman Danny Smith. The team plays 56 games this season, which ends March 27.