Jacksonville Sports Day

ECHL: Jacksonville Icemen Playoff Bound; Fortier’s Return Bolsters Roster

FILE PHOTO By NANCY BEECHER

The Jacksonville Icemen have clinched a berth in the 2019 ECHL Kelly Cup Playoffs.

The Icemen punched their ticket to the 2019 Kelly Cup Playoffs, by virtue of a 4-2 victory by the South Carolina Stingrays over the Atlanta Gladiators on Sunday afternoon in North Charleston.

Jacksonville announced that forward Maxime Fortier has been reassigned to the team from the Cleveland Monsters of the American Hockey League (AHL). Fortier, 21, returns to the Icemen where he posted 25 points (12g, 13a) in 21 appearances this season.

In addition, the 5-10, 184-pound rookie winger recorded five points (1g, 4a) in 20 AHL games played during his call-up with Cleveland.

The Montreal, Quebec native finished a productive career with the Halifax Mooseheads of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) totaling 270 points (104g, 166a) in 263 career
games from 2013-2018. Fortier is currently under contract with the NHL’s Columbus Blue Jackets.

The Icemen strengthened their playoff run with a 4-3 victory over Atlanta in front of a sold out crowd of 8,955. Wacey Rabbit and Christophe Lalancette each posted a goal and an assist Saturday at the Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena.

Angus Redmond stopped 29 of 32 shots faced and recorded an assist on the game-winning goal, while Michael Bitzer took the loss allowing four goals on 29 shots faced.

The top four teams in each division make the playoffs.  Jacksonville currently sits in third place and could potentially move to as high as second. The Florida Everblades and Orlando Solar Bears have also clinched playoff spots in the South Division.

Playoff package information will be announced soon. Single game tickets for the first two home games of the first round of the playoffs will go on sale on Thursday at 10 a.m.

Opponent and dates will be announced at a later date. Single game tickets may be purchased online on Ticketmaster. All Icemen Elite members will soon receive information for reserving their seats for the playoffs prior to tickets going on sale to the general public.

LEAGUE HONORS – Brady Ferguson of the Newfoundland Growlers has been selected as the Inglasco ECHL Player of the Week for the week of March 25-31. Ferguson scored two goals and added three assists for five points in two games against Manchester last week. The 24-year-old had a goal and two assists in a 4-2 win on Friday then added the game-wining goal and an assist in a 5-2 victory on Saturday. Under contract with Toronto of the American Hockey League, Ferguson is tied for third among ECHL rookies with 29 goals and is tied for fifth among first-year players with 57 points in 47 games with the Growlers this season. He has added one assist in eight games with the Marlies……..Jeremy Helvig of the Florida Everblades has been named the CCM ECHL Goaltender of the Week for the week of March 25-31. Helvig went 2-0-0 with a 1.58 goals-against average and a save percentage of .955 in three appearances against Norfolk last week. The 21-year-old stopped all 17 shots he faced in a relief effort in a 5-2 win on Wednesday, made 29 saves in a 5-2 victory on Friday and turned aside a career-high 38 shots in a 6-2 win on Saturday. Under a National Hockey League contract with the Carolina Hurricanes, Helvig leads ECHL rookies, and is third overall with 26 wins, ranks fourth with a 2.26 goals-against average and is tied for seventh with a .918 save percentage in 38 games with the Everblades this season…..Indy Fuel forward Mathew Thomspon is the AMI Graphics ECHL Plus Performer of the Month for March after leading the league with a plus-minus rating of +1. Thompson posted an even or better rating in 11 of his 14 games during the month, including a +4 on March 16 at Reading and a +3 on March 24 against Cincinnati. The 25-year-old has 48 points (20g-28a) and a +8 rating in 62 games with the Fuel this season…..former South Carolina Stingrays and Reading Royals goaltender Philipp Grubauer of the Colorado Avalanche is The MeiGray Group ECHL Alumnus of the Month for March. The 27-year-old went 7-2-1 in 11 appearances in March with two shutouts, a 1.48 goals-against average and a save percentage of .955. He allowed two goals or less in nine of his 10 starts and made at least 29 saves seven times. Grubauer has seen action in 35 games with the Avalanche this season with a record of 17-9-4 with three shutouts, a 2.69 goals-against average and a save percentage of .916.

NHL NOTES: The Florida Panthers have agreed to terms with goaltender Ryan Bednard on a two-year, entry-level contract beginning in the 2019-20 season. Bednard, 22, completed his junior season with Bowling Green State University (NCAA), owning a 20-8-4 record, 1.77 goals against average, .927 save percentage and three shutouts over 32 games played. The 6-foot-5, 200-pound native of Macomb, Mich., ranked fourth in the nation for goals against average, tied for ninth in wins and tied for 10th in save percentage….the Tampa Bay Lightning have recalled goaltender Eddie Pasquale from the Syracuse Crunch of the American Hockey League. Pasquale, 28, has played in 43 games for Syracuse this season, posting a record of 25-12-6 to go along with a 2.37 goals-against average and .916 save percentage. He ranks tied for fourth in the league for wins and is sixth for goals-against average. Pasquale made his NHL debut with the Lightning on December 4 at Detroit, making 19 saves. The 6-foot-3, 215-pound goaltender has played in 269 career AHL games over seven seasons, compiling a record of 135-96-19 to go along with a 2.51 goals-against average and .914 save percentage with 20 shutouts. Pasquale set career bests for goals-against average and save percentage during the 2017-18 season, helping lead the Grand Rapids Griffins to the Calder Cup Championship. He has appeared in 19 career Calder Cup Playoff games, notching a record of 9-9 with a .915 save percentage and a 2.59 goals-against average. Pasquale was originally drafted by the Atlanta Thrashers in the fourth round, 117th overall, at the 2009 NHL Draft.

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