Starting with the inaugural 2017 season, after a near 10-year hiatus, professional hockey returned to Jax. And (in this writer’s opinion) it’s better than ever, but I’m quite biased on the topic, as I love hockey.
Since the Jacksonville Barracudas folded back in 2008, there has been a void in Jax’s sports family. Our new team, the Jacksonville Iceman moved here in search of greener pastures from Evansville, Indiana, which is about a 3-hour drive Southwest of Indianapolis. While many of us in Jacksonville don’t take to kindly to things out of Indianapolis—see: AFC South division rivals, the Indianapolis Colts—I’d say we should be happy to take that city’s East Coast Hockey League (ECHL) hockey team away.
As I said, I love hockey. And I’m a big fan of the Icemen. Here are seven reasons you should be too.
1 The Team is Headed in the Right Direction
The Icemen’s inaugural year was an astounding success from an attendance standpoint. According to the ECHL’s website, the Icemen ranked 4th in overall attendance at the end of the year. Bravo Jacksonville! Unfortunately the on-ice result wasn’t quite up to par, as the Icemen missed the playoffs and finished with a sub .500 record. But, don’t expect the Icemen to be frozen out of the postseason forever. The team’s head coach, Jason Christie, just so happens to be the all-time winningest coach in the ECHL. The Icemen’s inaugural year also proved that their front office is in a good spot as their president, Bob Ohrablo was co-awarded ECHL Executive of the Year Award. With a strong fan-following, a storied head coach, and a successful front office, success should follow. As of writing, the Icemen are clinging to first place in their division with a record of 9-4 (8-1 on home Ice). Jump on the bandwagon with me. There’s plenty of room!
2 Only One American Tenner!
It’s really something special for a fan to only have to fork over one Alexander Hamilton to gain entrance to a pro-level sporting event. The tenner-ticket is great, but unfortunately the Icemen’s “$10 Ticket” is not guaranteed for everyone, so it’s imperative to check their website for when they are available, and buy them in advance just to be safe. If the 10-Spot Ticket is no longer an option then you’ll probably be looking at around $20 per ticket, which is still a great price considering how close all the seats in the arena are to the ice.
For those of you out there that may be concluding that a cheap ticket price is result of a cheap product on the ice, you’re wrong. Unless you’re a hockey purist who loves perfect breakouts, blue line to blue line positional play, and perfect cycling, it’d be hard to tell the difference between this league’s speed and intensity and that of the NHL.
And, if you just asked yourself, “What the hell does all of that mean?” Well, all the better. But, be forewarned: This sport is addicting.
3 A Casual Fan’s Delight: Goals, Hits, Fights and a Buzz.
The casual fan is there for probably four things, goals, fights, hits, and, maybe, to catch a buzz. And Icemen games provide nothing if not a lot of goals, ferocious hits, and, yes, a fight or two. The ECHL is a league for guys who are trying to make a name for themselves, and work their way up to the top. Because of this you’ll see the players expending a great amount of effort at all times–anything to get the pro scouts’ attention.
Speaking of giving it your all, when was the last time you turned down a $2 beer?
4 $2 Beer & Wine Wednesdays
Yes, on Wednesday games The Icemen offer $2 select beer and wine, perhaps taking the advice of their neighbors, the Jumbo Shrimp, and their Thirsty Thursday special, which offered $1 12 oz. Budweiser, or $2 24 ouncers. Always a fan favorite.
With “Weekend Wednesdays,” the Icemen’s promotional team has certainly hit on something, so A+ for creativity. Here are some upcoming home games that just happen to fall on Wednesdays. You’re welcome.
Wed, Nov. 21 v. Newfoundland @ 7:00pm —— (Conference Game)
Wed, Dec. 14 v. Atlanta @ 7:30pm —— (Conference Game)
Wed, Dec. 19 v. South Carolina @ 7:00pm —— (Divisional Game)
Wed, Feb. 13 v. Manchester @ 7:00pm —— (Conference Game)
Wed, Feb. 20 v. Florida @ 7:00 —— (Divisional Game)
Wed, Feb. 27 v. Atlanta @ 7:00pm —— (Conference Game)
5 Free Frosty!
If the Icemen take more than 30 shots in a game, you know what that means! No? Well, of course, it means that Wendy’s gives out coupons for free Frosty.
— Wendy's (@Wendys) April 22, 2014
Now, If I were really into the analytic stuff I could probably plug in which games this would most likely happen in the near future, by comparing other teams’ shots allowed per game, compared to how much the Icemen average per game, but that seems like a lot of work. A lot of work, and a lot of math that I would probably mess up, so I won’t even bother. Instead I’ll just tell you how many times free Frosty coupons have been dished out. It is still early in the season, but the Icemen have hit the free Frosty mark four times out of the nine home games played so far. On a side note, they’ve actually hit the 29-shot mark three times out of the other five games. That’s 44.4%. That means you’re if you go to two home games this year, you’re likely to get a free Frosty at one of those games. And who would turn down a free Frosty?
The math behind the Frosty thing wore me out, so reason number six is going to be low-hanging fruit. Fang is the Icemen’s new mascot. Here’s what you need to know about Fang. A cool mascot with a cool backstory. I think you’ll agree, Fang’s decidedly much better than Gritty!
7 The Icemen Foundation
The list of charitable organizations and initiatives that the Icemen support is massive. And through the Icemen Foundation, the team has donated more than $239,000 to projects and organizations in Northeast Florida. The list is long and diverse, with more than 60 charities ranging from Wounded Warriors to the Betty Griffin House. Yet another great reason to cheer the Icemen on.