ECHL: Icemen Receive Surplus Of Talent

The Jacksonville Icemen’s 2023-24 training camp is only in its second day, but that doesn’t mean roster changes can’t happen. With the AHL’s regular season beginning on Friday, October 13th, AHL teams are cutting down their final rosters and sending players to their next destinations. The next destination for players in the AHL’s Rochester Americans organization is Jacksonville.

On Monday, the Icemen announced the team had received four players from the Americans’ franchise, the Icemen’s new AHL affiliate team, for the upcoming season. The move becomes the first real official bit of business between the teams after announcing their new affiliate partnership back in July alongside both teams’ NHL affiliate, the Buffalo Sabres. Jacksonville did receive seven players from AHL camps on Saturday, with a majority of those being from Rochester, though those players were training camp invites.

Squad’s All Here

Rookie forwards Luke Bignell and Dominick Mersch were joined by forwards Chris Grando, Garrett Van Wyhe, and defenseman Julian Kislin at Americans’ training camp. That group was released from their tryouts at camp in Rochester on Saturday. In addition, forward Christopher Brown was reassigned from Rochester back to Jacksonville, though he remains under contract with the Americans for the upcoming season. Goaltender Matt Vernon was also released from his tryout with the AHL’s Calgary Wranglers.

The list of names reassigned to Jacksonville on Monday includes a pair of forwards and a pair of defensemen. Forwards Damien Giroux and Riley Fiddler-Schultz and blueliners Nicolas Savoie and Chris Jandric were sent down to Jacksonville. Dominick Mersch was also included in the reassignment transaction, though he was returned to the Icemen on Saturday.

INCOMING!

Photo Credit: AHL/Iowa Wild

Forward Damien Giroux joins the Icemen roster after spending the last three seasons with the Iowa Wild in the AHL. The 5’10” 176 pound forward was drafted by the Minnesota Wild in the fifth round of the 2018 NHL Draft after four seasons of play with the OHL’s Saginaw Spirit. Giroux played in 149 games with the Iowa Wild over the span of three seasons, including 67 appearances for the team last year. He tallied 22 points (3g, 19a) in a Wild sweater in the 2022-23 season, earning an appearance with the big club in April. In his solo game of NHL experience, Giroux saw 13:57 in time on ice and added an assist on one goal. He signed a one-year contract with Rochester in July.

Photo Credit: Premier Strength

Riley Fiddler-Schultz is the second new forward to arrive in Jacksonville. Clocking in at 6’0” 201 pounds, Fiddler-Schultz is an undrafted rookie forward who signed a two-year contract with the Americans organization in July. He spent the last five seasons playing with the Calgary Hitmen of the WHL, captaining the team for the 2022-23 season. In his most recent and final season for the Hitmen, Fiddler-Schultz amassed 75 (31g, 44a) points over 64 games and was named to the WHL’s First All-Star Team for the Central division. He previously won the WHL’s Doug Wickenheiser Trophy, awarded to the player named Humanitarian of the Year for the 2019-20 season.

Photo Credit: Russell Hons/University of North Dakota athletics

Chris Jandric, a 5’11”, 181 pound left-hand shot defenseman, arrives in Jacksonville after signing a two-year contract with the Rochester Americans back in the spring. The 25-year-old blueliner picked up one game of AHL experience with the Americans during the 2022-23 season after completing a second year at the University of North Dakota. He did nab an assist during the single AHL outing. His senior season with the Fighting Hawks was a stand-out season, with Jandric picking up four goals and 29 assists for 33 points. Jandric’s scoring showcase made him the first UND defenseman to score more than 30 points in a single season since 2017, when Abbotsford Canucks’ blueliner Christian Wolanin did it. It also landed him amongst the top five in scoring among defensemen nationwide for the 2022-23 season. One of the only Fighting Hawks players to dress for all 39 games, he finished the year being named to the All-NCHC First Team and earning All-NCHC Academic Honors for the second year in a row.

Photo Credit: Vincent Ethier Photography/Telegraph-Journal

The second defensive addition is 21-year-old Nicolas Savoie. Savoie is listed as 6’0” and weighs in at 190 pounds. An undrafted rookie, Savoie spent the last four seasons with the Quebec Remparts of the QMJHL before signing a one-year deal with Rochester in June. Over the course of four seasons with the Remparts, Savoie registered 28 goals and 102 assists. His seven goals and 41 assists last season resulted in a new career high for both assists and total points (48) and helped propel the Remparts to their first Memorial Cup win since 1976. Savoie’s eight assists during the Remparts’ postseason run was the most points scored among the club’s defensive group. His performance during the 2022-23 season earned him the honor of being named a Kevin Lowe Memorial Trophy finalist, the award given to the QMJHL’s best defensive defenseman.

The complete Icemen roster (as of 10/08):

Goaltenders 
30 – Matt Vernon 
31 – Joe Murdaca

Defensemen 
2 – Chris Jandric 
3 – Jack Van Boekel
5 – Brandon Fortunato 
6 –  Nicolas Savoie
7 – Connor Russell 
12 – Julian Kislin
14 – Chays Ruddy
15 – Jacob Panetta 
18 – Garret Cockerill
28 – Ivan Chukarov 

Forwards
8 – Michael Turner 
10 – Christopher Brown
11 – Victor Hadfield 
13 – Chris Grando 
16 – Derek Lodermeier 
19 – Matheson Iacopelli 
20 – Riley Fiddler-Schultz 
21 – Easton Brodzinski 
22 – Luke Bignell 
25 – Dominick Mersch
26 – Nick Isaacson 
27 – Damien Giroux 
41 – Carson Mackinnon 
45 – Logan Cockerill 
51 – Garrett Van Wyhe
83 – Brendan Harris

Forwards Steven Leonard, Bailey Conger, and Justin Cmunt, as well as defenseman Sean Leonard, remain with the group in a professional tryout/tryout capacity. Additionally, forward Craig Martin is listed on Injured Reserve.

Icemen training camp continues through October 19th, with regular season action opening on October 21st.

Andrew Willis

Andrew Willis is a freelance hockey reporter covering the ECHL's Jacksonville Icemen for Inside The Rink and the Vancouver Canucks for The Canuck Way. His work has been featured on Hockey of Tomorrow and The Daily Faceoff, and can be found on Twitter/X @FromTheDrewLine.

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