The ECHL has announced that the Jacksonville IceMen will join the league for the 2017-18 season. The franchise played in Evansville, IN through the 2015-16 season and was expected to move to Owensboro, KY next year, but that move fell through after the team failed to secure an arena deal.
The Jacksonville IceMen will begin play in October at the Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena, a 13,141-seat venue which opened in 2003.
“Jacksonville is an excellent geographic fit for our South Division,” ECHL commissioner Brian McKenna said. “Ron Geary and his team have been working behind the scenes for many months in preparation for this day. This is a great sports town and the Veterans Memorial Arena a terrific facility to showcase ECHL hockey.”
“Jacksonville is a natural fit for professional hockey,” said IceMen CEO Ron Geary. “We looked at the enthusiastic support current teams receive here and are excited to join them in providing Jacksonville fans with solid, family-priced sports entertainment.”
“We are honored to bring professional hockey back to Jacksonville,” IceMen president Bob Ohrablo said. “We are committed to ensuring that everyone who attends IceMen games will enjoy a competitive team and plenty of entertainment surrounding our games – all at family affordable prices. In addition, we will ensure that the IceMen organization becomes a solid corporate citizen in Jacksonville.”
The Jacksonville Lizard Kings competed in the ECHL for five seasons from 1995-96 through 1999-2000, reaching the Riley Cup Finals in its first season. Jacksonville has a pro hockey history dating back to 1964, when the Jacksonville Rockets joined the Eastern Hockey League.