Hockey Notebook: Jacksonville Icemen Add to Roster; Coaching Hires; Around the ECHL

By Mike Bonts, Florida Sports Wire

JACKSONVILLE  –  The Jacksonville Icemen has signed defenseman Mackenzie Dwyer, acquired defenseman Ivan Chukarov from the Adirondack Thunder in exchange for future considerations and agreed to terms with forwards Garett Van Whye, Easton Brodzinski, Nick Isaacson and Carson Mackinnon.

Dwyer, 26, returns to the Icemen where he posted seven points (1g, 6a) in 32 games last season. In addition, Dwyer appeared in five games with the Fort Wayne Komets (ECHL) and the Birmingham Bulls of the Southern Professional Hockey League (SPHL) recording 11 points (2g, 9a) in 25 outings.

During the 2021-22 season, the 6-3, 185-pound blue liner tallied nine points (1g, 8a) in 32 contests with the Norfolk Admirals. Prior to his professional career, Dywer played in one season at the University of Manitoba in 2018-19. From 2014-2018, the Winnipeg, Manitoba resident appeared in 35 career games in the WHL split between the Saskatoon Blades and Everett Silvertips. Dwyer closed out his junior career with the Portage Terriers of the MJHL, and amassed 53-points (11g, 42a) with 132 penalty minutes during the 2017-18 season and winning an MJHL title in 2016.

Chukarov, 28, registered 12 points (1g, 11a) in 58 games played with the Thunder last season. In addition, Chukarov also appeared in one game with the AHL’s Utica Comets.

The 6-3, 200-pound blue liner has totaled 32 points (6g, 26a) with 72 penalty minutes in 149 career ECHL games split between the Thunder and Worcester Railers from 2018-2023. Prior to his professional career, Chukarov played four collegiate seasons at UMass-Amherst where he totaled 25 points (6g, 19a) and won a Hockey East Conference regular season title in 2019.

Chukarov also won a Robertson Cup championship with the NAHL’s Minnesota Wilderness in 2015, capping off a 44-point season. The Des Plaines, Illinois resident was selected by the Buffalo Sabres in the seventh-round of the 2015 NHL Entry Draft.

Isaacson, 24, appeared in just two games for the Icemen last season before suffering a season-ending injury. Isaacson was initially acquired by the Icemen last December via a trade with the Maine Mariners.  The 6-3, 205-pound forward posted 11 points (5g, 6a) in 26 games played with the South Carolina Stingrays during the 2021-22 season and earned a three-game call-up with the AHL’s Hershey Bears.  Prior to his professional career, the Oakville, Ontario resident logged 82 points (32g, 50a) with the OHL’s Peterborough Petes and Mississauga Steelheads from 2016-2020.   

MacKinnon, 24, scored two goals in the 11 games with the Icemen this past spring. Prior to joining the Icemen, MacKinnon recorded 19 points (4g, 15a) in 30 games played at the University of Prince Edward Island (AUS) last season.  The 6-1,176-pound forward totaled 29 points in 47 collegiate games during his two seasons of play at UPEI.   The Summerside, PEI resident also amassed 154 points (55g, 99a) in 302 career Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) contests split in stints with the Rimouski Oceanic and the Gatineau Olympiques from 2015-2020. 

Van Wyhe, 26, joins the Icemen after totaling 22 points (14g, 8a) in 59 ECHL games split between the Adirondack Thunder and the Fort Wayne Komets last season. The 6-2, 201-pound forward appeared in one game with the AHL’s Utica Comets during the 2021-22 season, earning an AHL contract with the Comets last season.  

Van Wyhe played four collegiate seasons at the University of Michigan from 2018-2022 totaling 37 points (16g, 21a), and winning a Big-10 Conference title in 2022.  The Seattle, Washington resident also won a Clark Cup Championship with the USHL’s Fargo Force in 2018.   

Brodzinski, 25, returns for a second season in Jacksonville after registering 22 points (8g, 14a) in 45 games played during his rookie campaign last season.

The 6-1, 191-pound forward totaled 125 points (67g, 58a) during his five collegiate seasons at St. Cloud State University. Following his college career, the Blaine, Minnesota resident made one appearance with the AHL’s Hartford Wolf Pack in the spring of 2022, earning an AHL contract with Hartford for the 2022-23 season.

Assistant Coaches Named – The Atlanta Gladiators announced that forward Eric Neiley has retired and will serve as the next assistant coach for the club.

Neiley, 31, takes over as assistant coach for the Gladiators following seven seasons in the ECHL, five coming with Atlanta. In 265 total games with the franchise, Neiley sits second all-time in goals scored (103), seventh in assists (95), and fifth in points produced (198). Elsewhere in the ECHL, he has skated with both the Adirondack Thunder and Jacksonville Icemen.

The South Carolina Stingrays announced that Scott Davidson has been hired as the team’s Assistant Coach. Davidson, 28, rejoins the Stingrays after playing 33 games for the club in the 2019-2020 season.

The Florida Everblades hired Anthony Peters as an assistant coach ahead of the upcoming season.

“We are thrilled to welcome Anthony back to the organization as our new assistant coach,” said General Manager and Head Coach Brad Ralph. “His knowledge of the game, combined with his passion and dedication, makes him a perfect fit for our coaching staff. We are confident that his contributions will help us continue our success and defend our back-to-back Kelly Cup Championships.”

Around the ECHL – The South Carolina Stingray have agreed to terms with forwards Ryan Steele, Ian Mackey Ryan Leibold, Austin Magera, defensemen Connor Hall and Jon McDonald ..the Atlanta Gladiator have signed defensemen Adam Samuelsson, Jacob Graves, Zach Yoder and forward Alex Whelan and forwards Connor Casparie and Alex Cohen to amateur tryout agreements …the Orlando Solar Bears announced forwards Brayden Low, Joe Carroll, Luke Boka and  goaltender Drennen Atherton have agreed to terms on a ECHL Standard Player contracts…the Florida Everblades have agreed to terms with defenseman Cole Moberg and  re-signed forward Logan Lambdin….The Greenville Swamp Rabbits have signed forward Nick Prkusicand, re-signed defenseman Joe Leahy and forwards Colton Young and Josh McKechney.

AHL’s Wolfpack Sign Former Iceman DiGiacinto  – New York Rangers Assistant General Manager and Hartford Wolf Pack General Manager Ryan Martin announced that the club has re-signed forward Cristiano DiGiacinto to a one-year AHL standard player contract.

DiGiacinto, 27, appeared in 36 games with the Wolf Pack during the 2022-23 season, his second with the club. He scored 12 points (3 g, 9 a) and registered 44 PIMs during the 2022-23 season. DiGiacinto also appeared in 47 games with the Wolf Pack during the 2021-22 campaign, scoring 13 points (6 g, 7 a).

In addition to his time in Hartford, DiGiacinto skated in 19 games with the ECHL’s Jacksonville Icemen in 2022-23, scoring 15 points (5 g, 10 a). He added three points (1 g, 2 a) in 12 Kelly Cup Playoff games.

(Mike Bonts covers hockey for the Florida Sports Wire and SportsDay)

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