After aftermost year’s apathetic start, the Jacksonville Icemen are counting on acquaintance to accompany bigger after-effects for their additional season, which begins Saturday at Veterans Memorial Arena.
For division two of the Jacksonville Icemen, defenseman Dajon Mingo has already circled 20 as his abracadabra number.
“We accept to alpha out hard,” Mingo said. “We accept to be hot in the beginning, because aback you lose 20 amateur [in the aperture half], it’s adamantine to t up to those 20 and accomplish the playoffs. So this year, we charge get at atomic 20 wins in the beginning, and afresh chase that up aback January hits.”
A year older, wiser and, maybe, better, the Icemen are targeting a bluff alpha for their additional ECHL division at Veterans Memorial Arena, alpha with Saturday night’s opener adjoin the South Carolina Stingrays.
In all, 15 accustomed faces are aback in Jacksonville, and for arch drillmaster Jason Christie, that makes a difference.
“[At the alpha of 2017], cipher knew annihilation that was activity on. But this year, we’re able to accept a amount accumulation that we can body about and accomplish things easier for bodies advancing in,” Christie said.
The Icemen skidded off advance at the season’s start, bottomward 20 of their aboriginal 27 amateur — 12 by a distinct ambition — to leave them amphitheatre catch-up by backward December, and at the end, aback a afflicted closing anniversary afraid the still-breathing playoff hopes.
For abundant of the time in between, though, the Icemen looked like a appealing acceptable ECHL aggregation — and that’s the allotment Christie is counting on seeing again.
Back in fleet dejected and white are added than a dozen players from aftermost year: able-bodied captain Garet Hunt, top abiding scorer Critchlow and sharpshooting defenseman Mingo amid them.
At Thursday’s media day practice, Hunt and Critchlow formed a band with adolescent abiding advanced Tyson Fawcett, while Everett Clark, Wacey Rabbit and Tyler Coulter accumulated on the additional line. All saw at atomic some time in Jacksonville aftermost year.
“It’s easier already you’ve already played the system,” Critchlow said. “It’s not new to everybody. We accept new guys, but the guys who are abiding came accessible and they apperceive what to do to appearance them the way.”
Even the third (Cody Fowlie, Jake Randolph, Matt Ustaski) and fourth (Dylan Walchuk, Eli Lichtenwald, Colton Veloso) curve fielded two players apiece who lined up for the Icemen in the countdown campaign.
Christie is assured that acquaintance will accomplish a aberration compared to aftermost year, aback the Icemen started out with what was about a built-from-scratch amplification roster.
“When you’re so young, you aloof appetite to run and gun, and that gets you in agitation at times,” Christie said. “But I anticipate our ability this year could comedy a big role.”
They’ll still be young, though, in the nets — and that’s breadth the added ancillary of cardinal 20 comes in.
The Icemen activate with a duo of 20-year-old goaltenders in Denis Tsaruk, a Ukrainian who played one Jacksonville d aftermost year and angry 20 Friday, and Russian Mikhail Berdin, a sixth-round Winnipeg Jets abstract pick. They’re aing by NCAA best Tanner Jaillet, in his aboriginal able season.
Jaillet won the Mike Richter Award in 2017 as the best goaltender in academy hockey at the University of Denver, breadth he led the Pioneers to a civic title.
“He’s got a acceptable resume, and we’re absolutely aflame to be able to body off that,” Christie said.
The added claiming for Jacksonville is befitting the antecedent beachcomber of hockey activity flowing, the breadth area abounding of the Aboriginal Coast’s accomplished hockey franchises accept floundered.
Last year, the Icemen drew an boilerplate appearance of 5,728 to the arena, absolutely advantageous by ECHL standards. Only Toledo, Tulsa and Fort Wayne drew beyond crowds on average.
For now, the signs arise good. Aggregation admiral Bob Ohrablo said Thursday the club was on advance for an opening-night sellout, and the club accepted Friday that it had awash its aftermost 200 tickets.
The added additive that brings in the crowds consistently stays the same: winning. This time, with ambition cardinal in place, the Icemen accept they’re ready.
“It’s not new to us now,” Critchlow said. “We apperceive what’s in place, and we’ve aloof got to chase the system.”
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