Frostbites: Icemen Back At Home After Solid Road Trip

Photo Credit: Andrew Fielder for Inside The Rink

For the first time in two weeks, hockey will be back in VyStar Memorial Arena. The Jacksonville Icemen are set to return to home ice for a Saturday night tilt with the South Carolina Stingrays. It’s the Icemen’s first game at home since the team’s teddy bear toss on Dec 2.

Last week, Jacksonville took on the Ghost Pirates in Savannah and played a pair of games against the Norfolk Admirals. The team will need to dig deep on Saturday night, however. The first game back on home ice is the team’s third game in as many days. Thursday night, the Icemen were in Savannah once more before traveling to Atlanta for last night’s game against the Gladiators to close out the trip.

The Icemen played well on the road, going 4-1 on the stretch. The team now sits in third place in the division standings with 28 points, just two points back from the second-place Stingrays. 

Scorecard Snapshot

12/14 @ Savannah Ghost Pirates: 5-4 W
The Ghost Pirates looked to be in control with a 3-1 lead heading into the second, but a determined Icemen effort led to a come-from-behind victory. Captain Christopher Brown was the sole goal scorer in the first period and would add the second Icemen goal of the night 3:21 into the second period. Brendan Harris made it a tied 3-3 game halfway through the frame, but a pair of goals from Derek Lodermeier in the last twenty minutes would land Jacksonville the win.

12/15 @ Atlanta Gladiators: 3-2 W
Atlanta took a 2-0 lead in the first period but couldn’t find the offensive touch in the latter periods of play. Forwards Brendan Harris and Riley Fidler-Schultz made it a tied game in the middle frame, evening things up at 2-2. Garrett Van Wyhe notched the Icemen’s game-winning goal with 4:44 left to play in the last period. The GWG was Van Wyhe’s fifth goal of the season.

Jacksonville has a prime chance to move into second place in the division, with a pair of match-ups coming in the next week. The Icemen play three games at home from Dec. 16-22, with the games on Dec. 16 and 22 both against South Carolina. 

Subsequently, those two games are the only two on the schedule for the Stingrays in the coming days. If the Icemen can knock off South Carolina in both contests, they’ll put themselves firmly into the South Division’s second place. 

Now 8-2 in their last ten games, the Icemen have found ways to win and keep themselves in the mix. Capping off a solid road run with a home win and winning three games in three nights would be an excellent way to carry some positive momentum into a short homestand. Now, a third of the way into the year, the Icemen have put together a smooth turnaround after a clunky start.

South Carolina hasn’t been an easy opponent for the Icemen in the early weeks of the season. The three prior meetings between the teams have all resulted in losses for Jacksonville, two of them in overtime. The Icemen will need to keep their foot on the gas and play a well-rounded 200ft game Saturday night in order to get ahead of the long game, which is the points standings race.

The team will get a short breather before taking on the Florida Everblades on Wednesday, Dec 20. The Icemen have handled business accordingly with the reigning Kelly Cup champs, winning all three of the previous meetings this season.

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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