By Thomas Pope, Fayetteville Observer
Everything had to fall into place this weekend for the Fayetteville FireAntz to win the Southern Professional Hockey League regular-season title - and it did.
With Pensacola's 5-1 victory over Louisiana in Sunday's regular-season finale, the FireAntz were able to tie the Ice Gators for first at 73 points. Fayetteville won the Coffey Trophy, given to the regular-season titlist, and the top seed for the playoffs, by virtue of more wins than Louisiana, 35-34.
The Antz won the President's Cup playoff crown in 2007, but it's the franchise's first regular-season title in the SPHL's nine-year history. They didn't qualify for the playoffs the past two seasons.
The FireAntz will face Huntsville in the best-of-three, first-round playoff duel. The Havoc will host Game 1 on Wednesday night, and Game 2 is at Fayetteville's Crown Coliseum on Thursday at 7:30 p.m. If a Game 3 is necessary, it will be in the Crown at 7:30 p.m. Sunday. Fayetteville won the regular-season series 4-2-0.
"Obviously, the regular-season championship was one of the goals on our mind down the stretch - and all season long," said Mark DeSantis, Fayetteville's first-year coach. "Now that we've got it, it's a great, great achievement for our team and our guys, and how hard they worked all season long.
"But things go real quick now. We have to stick to our same game plan and play our same style if we want to achieve our other goal, which is the President's Cup."