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Jets Team Up with ECHL’s Jacksonville Icemen

By Scott Taylor

The Winnipeg Jets have a new ECHL affiliate. The Moose will no longer send their players to the Tulsa Oilers, but instead, they’ll be off to Jacksonville, Fla., to play for the brand spanking new Icemen. That’s right, the Icemen cometh.

“We are pleased to embark on our partnership with the Jacksonville IceMen,” said Craig Heisinger, Senior Vice President & Director of Hockey Operations/Assistant General Manager of the Winnipeg Jets in a written statement. “The commitment the IceMen ownership has to winning on and off the ice has been unquestioned. We have enjoyed a long and successful relationship with their Head Coach Jason Christie and look forward to him continuing to coach our prospects, as well as add to his ECHL record as the winningest coach in ECHL history.”

The Jacksonville IceMen were awarded an ECHL franchise in February 2017 and will begin their inaugural season this fall.  The IceMen open their 72 game 2017-18 season at the Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena on Saturday, Oct. 14 against the Orlando Solar Bears.

The official announcement was made in Jacksonville on Thursday and Jacksonville mayor Lenny Curry was on hand.

“I’m the told the expectations are high,” Curry said. “The expectations are about winning, first.”

Jason Christie, who was recently announced as Jacksonville’s first head coach, has long-standing ties to the Jets organization, working with the organization in Ontario and Tulsa. The winningest coach in ECHL history, Christie holds a 547-349-111 record in 14 seasons. Last season, as coach of the Tulsa Oilers, Christie had nine players played for both the Edmonton Oilers and Moose. That group included Manitoba’s third leading scorer, Dan DeSalvo, and goaltender Jamie Phillips, who was named to the ECHL All-Star game.

“We are excited to launch our team with the Winnipeg organization,” said Bob Ohrablo, President of the Jacksonville IceMen in a written statement. “In addition to a strong commitment to development, the Winnipeg organization has successful ties to our Vice President of Hockey Operations/Head Coach Jason Christie, who has been integral in player development for both the Jets and Moose in the past while accumulating the winningest coaching record in ECHL history.

“Since we’ve been here, the embrace that we’ve felt from the fans and the whole community has been awesome. I want to take this opportunity on behalf of our entire organization to thank everybody in this room and everybody in this city and in this area. It’s going to be so great here, some players won’t want to get called up. They may see a call from Winnipeg and toss their phones in the pool.”

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