Jacksonville Sports Day

ECHL Notebook: Streaking Icemen Finding Success on Ice and in Player Development

JACKSONVILLE – The Jacksonville Icemen, ECHL affiliate of the NHL’s New York Rangers and the AHL’s Hartford Wolf Pack won their ninth consecutive game on Wednesday evening with a 6-2 defeat of the South Carolina Stingrays.

As it turned out, Wednesday became a big night for the Icemen at both the ECHL and AHL levels.

The Icemen’s nine-game win streak is currently the longest active winning streak in all of North American professional hockey. The Icemen are also 15-2-0 in their 17 contests and this recent surge has propelled the Icemen to the top overall spot in the ECHL. The Icemen have also outscored their opponents 40-16 during this nine-game stretch.

Jacksonville has managed to keep winning even after a flurry of recent call-ups. Several of these players wasted little time making their presence known on Wednesday evening. Forward Ara Nazarian scored the game-winning goal for the Rochester Americans in his AHL debut, while defenseman Zach Berzolla did the same for the Hartford Wolf Pack in his first AHL appearance. In the same game, goaltender Francois Brassard outdueled another former Icemen goaltender Ken Appleby (Bridgeport), by stopping 31 of 33 shots to help guide Hartford to a 3-2 victory last night.

Also receiving call-ups from Jacksonville in the past week were forwards Christopher Brown (Hershey), Vladislav Mikhalchuk (Hershey), Jake Elmer (Hartford) and defenseman Brandon Fortunato (Hartford). Earlier in the month, goaltender Tyler Wall was also recalled to Hartford.

“At the beginning of the month, we challenged the group to take the next step as a team,” said first-year Icemen Head Coach Nick Luukko. “As a staff, we preached to play with more confidence and swagger. The guys responded, and the success has led to not only a great winning streak, but eight call-ups with four of those players on ECHL deals. Our success is a direct result of our tremendous depth and buy-in from our entire group. From the net out, we’ve had every single guy playing at a high-level night in and night out.”

Leading the way for Jacksonville is forward Craig Martin, whose 27 points are good for seventh best in the ECHL. Martin is currently riding a nine-game points streak and has totaled 16 points (7g, 11a) in the month of December. Forward Abbott Girduckis recorded his third three-point performance of the season on Wednesday. Goaltender Charles Williams has won his last five starts and is currently ranked sixth in the ECHL with a 2.14 goals-against average.

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