With the 2022-2023 regular season coming to a close, the Jacksonville Icemen are getting set for another Kelly Cup playoff appearance. There will be some new names donning Icemen sweaters this postseason, one of whom fans have heard a lot lately; Matheson Iacopelli. With four goals in his last four games, Iacopelli is beginning to find his stride with his new team at just the right time.
Acquired in a trade with the Kalamazoo Wings at the trade deadline Matheson Iacopelli, a.k.a. Matt Iacopelli, is an experienced forward who is no stranger to the scoresheet. Selected in the third round of the 2014 NHL Draft by the Chicago Blackhawks, Iacopelli began his professional career after leaving Western Michigan University in 2017. He played 67 games for the Western Michigan Broncos throughout two seasons, collecting 43 points. In the 2016-2017 season, he became the first 20-goal scorer at WMU since Mark Letestu hit the mark in the 2005-2006 season.
Prior to playing at the collegiate level, Matt played his junior hockey with the Muskegon Lumberjacks of the USHL. In his first season with the Lumberjacks, he ended the year seventh in overall scoring with 63 points and landed first in goals with 41. His success continued into his second season with the team, seeing a tally of 23 goals and 14 assists before leaving to join WMU.
Iacopelli joins the Icemen amid the fifth professional season of his career, where he’s gathered 85 games of AHL experience. After joining the Blackhawks organization in 2017, he spent time with their AHL affiliate, the Rockford IceHogs. Iacopelli registered 27 points in Rockford throughout three seasons before ECHL stints with the Indy Fuel and Manchester Monarchs.
After being traded by the Blackhawks during the 2018-2019 season, the Woodhaven, Michigan native entered free agency. While a free agent, he would go on to sign with the Kalamazoo Wings on September 9, 2019, to join them for the 2019-2020 season. In Kalamazoo, Iacopelli’s game found a fit.
In his first season with Kalamazoo (2019-2020), Iacopelli registered 16 goals and 15 assists for a 31-point season. Although the 2020-2021 season was lost due to the COVID-19 pandemic, he posted similar numbers while playing 61 games in the 2021-2022 season. With 21 goals and 15 assists, he racked up 36 points. Iacopelli signed an extension with the Wings before the start of the 2022-2023 season, where his pace remained consistent. Upon joining the Icemen last month, he already had 29 points on the season (16g, 13a).
Trial and Error
So far, Matheson Iacopelli has played ten games in an Icemen uniform. Through the first six games with the team, Iacopelli only managed to find the scoresheet once. It came as an assist on a powerplay goal against South Carolina, a game the Icemen lost 5-2. Joining a new team can warrant an adjustment period, and if the last four games are anything to go by, Iacopelli is done adjusting.
Scoring four goals in his last four games, Iacopelli has found a way to make an impact in a hectic end-of-season run leading into the playoffs. He’s collected 6 points through his first ten games in Jacksonville, and five of those six points have come in the last four games. In a 5-2 loss to the Florida Everblades on April 5, Iacopelli found a way to contribute to both goals – scoring and assisting on the other. His recent goal against Atlanta cracked the 20th goal of the season mark, only the second time he’s done it in his professional career. That goal helped propel the Icemen to victory over Atlanta and secure a spot in the playoffs.
Since the calendar turned to April, Matheson Iacopelli has been streaking. He has found ways to produce points at a consistent rate, contributing on nights where it mattered. With a few tough divisional opponents still left on the schedule and the playoffs still yet to begin, the Icemen will need that consistency to continue. It will most certainly need to be an all-hands-on-deck affair to bring the Kelly Cup home.