WICHITA, Kan. – Welcome to Monday Headlines, where we look back at the previous weekend of ECHL action and give you some headlines from across the league.
We hope all of you had a wonderful Christmas, Hanukkah, or Kwanzaa as we continue to celebrate the holidays and put the wraps on what has been one helluva year. It is our fervent hope that you have a wonderful 2021. On behalf of my team at The Sin Bin, we thank you for your support of our website throughout the year. It has been our honor to bring you content that has been newsworthy, timely, and informative. We pledge to continue this into the new year.
Now to the headlines from the third weekend of the ECHL season:
Melting Ice in Jacksonville:
Global warming is not really a phenomenon to poke fun at, but when you have a team named the “Icemen” located in Florida, sometimes…well, the jokes and headlines write themselves.
The Jacksonville Icemen are out to a dismal 1-4-0-0 start, tied for last in the ECHL based on points percentage with Wheeling. The Icemen, known for their rugged playing style under head coach Jason Christie, rank second in the league with 92 penalty minutes, have been outscored 17-4 at even strength. There is not a single player on the roster who has a positive plus-minus rating.
The goaltending, thought to be a strength of the Icemen at the start of the season, has not been very good in the first handful of games. NHL/AHL contracted netminders Callum Booth and Kyle Keyser have allowed 14 goals on 111 shots faced, have a combined goals against average of 4.56, and a combined save percentage of .877. As a team, the Icemen are last in the league, allowing 4.00 goals per game.
Offensively, Jacksonville is just as frosty, scoring just seven goals in the first five games (league-worst 1.40 goals per game average). At the start of play Monday night, the Icemen have one multi-goal scorer (Wacey Rabbit) and five different goal scorers.
Now, it doesn’t help that they’ve run into a red-hot Florida Everblades team three of the first six games (counting tonight’s tilt), but this is a veteran-laden team; a slow start with a veteran head coach behind the bench is not a good sign.
Rookies Taking Center Stage:
For all the hubbub made during the offseason about seasoned ECHL players having jobs this year, this year’s rookie class has done a solid job of coming to the forefront early in the season.
When looking at the overall league scoring race, rookies make up five of the top-20 spots, led by Florida’s Patrick Harper with nine points (5G, 4A), who was among five Everblades recalled to NHL Nashville on Monday afternoon.
Not only are rookies impacting the overall scoring race, but they are making an impact in games. Case in point, Gordie Green and Noel Hoefenmayer, who chipped with two goals and an assist Saturday night as the Thunder defeated the Kansas City Mavericks. In Wheeling, Peter Krieger had three points over the weekend as the Indy Fuel swept the Nailers. Finally, Allen Americans forward Jake McGrew is second among rookies with four goals, including two this weekend as the Americans defeated the Tulsa Oilers.
It will be interesting to watch this group this season to see how they continue to perform as the season goes along and how it compares to some more-seasoned players in the league.
The Sin Bin’s Player of the Week:
Jesse Mychan (Allen): The seventh-year forward had a four-point (3G, 1A) weekend as the Allen Americans defeated the Tulsa Oilers by a combined score of 9-2. In addition to the points, Mychan was a plus-4, scored a power-play and game-winning goal on Saturday night.
The Sin Bin’s Goalie(s) of the Week:
Cam Johnson (Florida): The Florida Everblades netminder pitched a shutout this last weekend, stopping all 27 shots he faced Saturday night against the Jacksonville Icemen. This season, the third-year pro is 3-0-0, a 1.33 goals against average (four goals allowed on 89 shots faced), and a .955 save percentage.
They Said It:
Just weeks after announcing he will miss the season due to a heart condition, NHL netminder and an all-around good guy, Henrik Lundquist, announced Monday he would have open-heart surgery soon.
For one of the best in the game, here’s hoping Henrik has a speedy recovery, and we see him back in the crease at some point.
— Henrik Lundqvist (@hlundqvist35) December 28, 2020
Matthew Harding is the Editor-in-Chief for TheSinBin.net, covers the ECHL and the Wichita Thunder. Follow and interact with him on Twitter @SinBinThunder.