Jacksonville Sports Day

Bonts: Strong Finish Gives Jacksonville ECHL Win in Front of Sellout

Photos by Nancy Beecher/Florida Sports Wire

The Jacksonville Icemen defeated the South Carolina Stingrays 4-2 in front of a sold-out crowd of 8,967 at Veterans Memorial Arena in the season’s first ECHL first game.

A noticeable, early difference this season is Jacksonville’s pressure in the offensive zone during final minutes of the game. Saturday night the pressure on the Stingrays accounted for two goals against Parker Milner. Last season the Icemen were outscored in the final period 77-57 and were 2-28-1-1 when trailing after two periods.

With head coach Jason Christie emphasizing conditioning and stamina, this year’s roster looked like they got the message on the importance of finishing strong after the opening game.

Jacksonville goaltender Mikhail Berdin finished with 24 saves. Milner finished with 32 saves.

The 1-0 start is far better than Jacksonville’s inaugural season. After starting last season with five consecutive losses, the Icemen didn’t win their first game in franchise history until Nov. 8 when they defeated the Brampton (Ontario) Beast 5-0.

Saturday’s first period was scoreless until Kevin McKernan put the visitors on the board at 17:12.

Jacksonville evened the score in the second on a power play goal from Blake Kessel, assisted by Everett Clark and Wacey Rabbit.

South Carolina took back the lead when Jake Kamrass scored on a pass from Joey Leach and Andrew Cherniwchan at 0:34 of the second.

Jacksonville answered with from team captain Garet Hunt’s goal. Matt Ustaski and Cody Fowlie got the assists. Fowlie found the back of the net with a shorthanded goal assisted by Berdin to go up 3-2.

Alexis D’Aoust put the Icemen ahead 4-2 on a goal assisted by Jack Glover and Jake Randolph.

On Sunday Jacksonville added veteran forward Kris Newbury to the roster.

Newbury, 36, began his first pro season in 2003 with the St. John’s Maple Leafs (AHL). In his 15-year career the Brampton, Ontario native has played over 900 pro games including 75 NHL games, 826 AHL games, and 7 in the ECHL. Last season the 5-11, 205-pound center played in Germany collecting 36 points (11G, 25A) in 45 games fo Fischtown.

“We’re excited to bring Kris on board. He can play any style of game and has been productive on every team he’s been on,” Christie said. “He’s a good teammate who brings a great deal of leadership.”

Tyler Coulter has been placed on reserve.

ICEMEN JOIN EFFORTS FOR HURRICANE RELIEF

The Jacksonville Icemen and First Coast News (FCN) today announced they have joined efforts to assist fellow Floridians affected by Hurricane Michael. Friday’s Icemen game will feature many elements through which fans can donate to the American Red Cross of North Florida.

“FCN is thrilled to team up with The Icemen and the Red Cross to help those who suffered so much loss during Hurricane Michael,” said Rob Mennie, FCN President and General Manager. “This is a wonderful example of what three great organizations, working together, can do to help those in need.”

Twenty percent of any ticket purchased for Friday’s Icemen game purchased at jaxicemen.com/redcross will be donated to The American Red Cross of North Florida to aid those affected by the storm. In addition, all proceeds generated from the intermission contest ‘Tire Outlet Chuck-A-Puck’, and through a video board donation prompt will also be donated to this effort.

“The devastation to our fellow Floridians in the Panhandle is unimaginable,” explained Bob Ohrablo, President of the Icemen. “Working with our partners, First Coast News, and the best fans in the ECHL, we hope to raise funds that will be used to secure necessary supplies and food for those who have been affected by this terrible storm.”

“We are extremely grateful to the Icemen and First Coast News for supporting our disaster relief efforts for Hurricane Michael,” said Mary Anne Thomas, Regional Philanthropy Officer, American Red Cross of North Florida. “The loss is enormous, and communities are devastated, but support from groups like the Icemen can help so many. “

The Icemen return to Veterans Memorial Arena on Friday, Oct. 19 at 7:30 p.m. to face the Orlando Solar Bears.

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