On June 23rd, the Jacksonville Icemen of the ECHL announced that there would be a change coming in the Icemen organization. After previously partnering with the Winnipeg Jets and the New York Rangers over the course of the last six seasons, the Icemen made it known that the team was expecting a change at the NHL/AHL affiliate level.
Today, reporting out of Buffalo confirms what many in the Jacksonville market expected – the new NHL affiliate team for the Jacksonville Icemen is the Buffalo Sabres. This move comes after the Icemen served as the ECHL affiliate for the New York Rangers for the past two seasons, in which Jacksonville was the third destination in the Rangers pipeline following the AHL’s Hartford Wolfpack. The Rangers just recently announced an ECHL affiliate deal with the Cincinnati Cyclones.
The new partnership sets up a pipeline from Jacksonville to Buffalo, with the Rochester Americans serving as the teams’ AHL destination. Though it’s not the first time the teams have crossed paths. Former Icemen Head Coach Jason Christie made his way to Buffalo in July of 2021 after accepting an assistant coaching position with the Sabres. Fan favorite Ara Nazarian played in 14 games for the Americans’ in the 2021-22 season, scoring one goal and registering two assists during his time with the team. Additionally, recently retired goaltender Charles Williams also saw playing time in Rochester when he was called up during the 2021-22 season. Given the existing history between the two teams, a partnership with the Sabres feels like a natural evolution for the Icemen.
A press conference is scheduled for 10 am Monday, July 17th, in which the teams are expected to confirm the news. The Icemen will return to the ice in 100 days, on October 21st.