Frostbites: Icemen Experience Roster Shake-Up

Credit: Gary Lloyd McCullough/Jax Icemen

After a strong 3-0 start to the season and an OT loss back on home ice, the Icemen set out for their first road trip of November. The team would receive a 5-2 loss at the hands of the current division-leading Atlanta Gladiators on Friday, then fell victim in a 3-2 loss to the Greenville Swamp Rabbits in Saturday’s match-up. Now 3-2-1 on the year and back in Jacksonville for a full week of action, the team is experiencing some shake-ups at the roster level.

Who’s Out:

Defenseman Jack Van Boekel was released from the team on November 1st. Van Boekel appeared in Jacksonville’s preseason tilts with the Savannah Ghost Pirates and went toe-to-toe with a couple of Ghost Pirates’ tough guys.

Newcomer Damien Giroux received a call-up by the Rochester Americans to start the month. Giroux played in three Icemen games to start the season and recorded four points during his stint in Jacksonville. His four points were amongst the Icemen’s scoring leaders at the time of his recall. The forward has now appeared in a pair of games with the Rochester AHL club, posting one assist thus far.

Also joining Giroux in Rochester is rookie forward Riley Fiddler-Schultz. RFS received the call-up on November 3rd and has already appeared in one game with the Americans. The rookie got off to a fast start in Jacksonville, posting one goal and four assists in four starts for the team. Like Giroux, Fiddler-Schultz was one of the top points-producing forwards for the Icemen when he was recalled.

Icemen captain Christopher Brown rejoins the Rochester Americans roster after being reassigned back to Jacksonville following training camp. Brown signed a one-year contract with Rochester in August and remains under contact with the team while he is in Jacksonville. His return to the AHL club comes after he registered a pair of goals and three assists through six games with the Icemen this season. His five points in six games led the Icemen in scoring before his reassignment.

Chris Jandric, a new addition to the Icemen blueline this season, also earned a call-up to Rochester. Jandric appeared in all six games for Jacksonville this season, recording two assists in that time. He previously appeared in one game with the Americans last season, in which he picked up one assist.

Who’s In?

(Photo: Micheline V/Rochester Americans)

Goaltender Michael Houser is the sole incoming roster assignment from Rochester. Houser has been reassigned to Jacksonville after appearing in three games with the Americans, where he garnered a 2-1 record. The 31-year-old goaltender has accumulated 228 games of ECHL experience in a pro career that spans back to 2012. A multi-time winner for the ECHL’s Goaltender of the Month and Goaltender of the Week awards, Houser boasts a 133-66-23 record in net at the ECHL level. He joins the Icemen with a current 4.96 goals against average and .838 save percentage. 

Looking Ahead:

Well, Icemen fans, there’s no way to really state it other than that these are some rough moves to have to endure. Brown, RFS, and Giroux are big scoring contributors and have been vital players in the Icemen’s offensive production through the early games of the season. It’s always nice to see players who deserve the chance get the call-up to play in the A. The drawback is that it comes with a few bumps in the road for the team, while a bit of reconfiguring has to happen. 

It is worth noting that with the exception of Brown, the Icemen have played solid hockey without Giroux, Fiddler-Schultz, and Jandric before. Sure, they have made welcome and accepted contributions this season, but those contributions have been new. The roster is still full of Icemen veterans capable of getting the job done. Guys like Brendan Harris, Derek Lodermeier, and Craig Martin have the ability to contribute in comparable ways and can pose equally impressive numbers. Last year’s late-season addition of Matheson Iacopelli, combined with the last-minute roster deadline signing of Anthony Petruzzelli this year, have reinforced scoring with offensive roster depth. It’s also not unheard of for them to go without captain Christopher Brown, who’s received a call-up to the AHL once before. 

The impact of the loss of some high-end production will undoubtedly be felt, but to what extent is up for the rest of the team to decide.

The Icemen take on the Savannah Ghost Pirates at home in the VyStar Memorial Arena tomorrow, Wednesday, November 8th

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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