Tampa Bay Sports Day

Bonts: ECHL’s 30th Season Underway as IceMen Lose Debut, Florida Wins

Everblades forward Joe Cox, right, fights Gladiators forward Chase Witala for the puck during the first period at the Germain Arena, where the Florida Everblades took on the Atlanta Gladiators on Friday, Oct. 13, 2017. Photo by Liam James Doyle/Naples Daily News

The ECHL’s 30th season began last week, and five teams escaped the opening weekend with 2-0-0 records. The ECHL’s two newest teams also opened their home schedules. The Jacksonville Icemen dropped a 5-4 decision in OT to Orlando in front of 8,956 fans at Veteran’s Memorial Arena.

Rookie Alexander Goulet led the way for Jacksonville with three points (2g-1a) while Jamie Phillips turned aside 41 shots.

The Worcester Railers welcomed over 12,000 fans to DCU Center for their 4-3 season-opening win over Manchester. Patrick McNally had a goal and an assist for the Railers while Eamon McAdam stopped 30 shots to record the win in goal.

The Wheeling Nailers picked up a pair of road wins at Greenville, scoring 12 goals in the process, including a 7-6 overtime win on Saturday. Hunter Fejes scored four goals in the win on Saturday while Garrett Meurs tallied six points (4g-2a) over the two games. Fejes and Meurs share the league lead in goals after the opening weekend.

The defending South Division champion Florida Everblades opened defense of their division title with a pair of wins on home ice over Atlanta. Seven different Everblades teamed up to score the team’s seven goals over the weekend while Clark Seymour notched four assists and is tied for first among ECHL defensemen with four points.

Three Mountain Division teams also opened the season with a pair of wins. The defending Kelly Cup champion Colorado Eagles recorded a pair of wins over Utah, winning 3-2 on home ice on Friday before notching a 2-1 win at Utah on Saturday. Michael Joly scored a pair of goals in Friday’s win and Brady Shaw is tied for second in the league among rookies with three points (1g-2a).

Allen’s offense got off to a quick start, picking up a pair of wins at Rapid City while outscoring the Rush 13-6. Olivier Archambault leads the league with seven points (3g-4a) while Zach Pochiro (3g-2a) and Casey Pierro-Zabotel (1g-4a) are tied for third with five points.

Wichita also started 2-0-0, sweeping a pair of home games against Indy. Matt DeBlouw scored a pair of goals in the two games and is tied for the team lead in scoring with Kyle Platzer (1g-2a) with three points each.

The ECHL averaged 5,857 fans per game during the 21 games of opening weekend, marking the largest opening weekend in the league since 2013-14 when an average of 6,433 fans attended 17 games. In addition to the 12,135 fans in Worcester, the Tulsa Oilers welcomed 12,845 fans for their opener on Friday against Kansas City while Fort Wayne had 10,089 fans on Saturday against Toledo.

SOUTH DIVISION NOTES: Jacksonville’s Scott Savage scored the first goal in team history…the IceMen had a sell-out crowd of 8,956 fans on Saturday against Orlando…Jacksonville hosts South Carolina on Saturday…Orlando’s Kristian Pospisil is tied for first among rookies with two goals…he Solar Bears are tied for second with 46.00 shots per game…Orlando is at Allen on Saturday and Sunday. Atlanta’s Darby Llewellyn scored his first pro goal on Friday at Florida…the Gladiators have scored three of their four goals in the first period. Atlanta hosts Florida on Friday and Saturday. Florida’s Callum Booth earned his first victory in his professional debut on Saturday…the Everblades have won 11 consecutive home openers… Greenville’s Brandon Halverson leads the league with 77 saves…Greenville is second on the power play at 40.0 percent (4-for-10)….the Swamp Rabbits travel to South Carolina on Friday…Norfolk’s Angelo Miceli is two points shy of 100 in his ECHL career…Norfolk is 2-for-8 on the power play through two games…t he Admirals are at Utah on Monday and Colorado on Friday and Saturday…South Carolina’s Jeff Jakaitis ranks second in ECHL history with 23 shutouts…South Carolina has advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals in each of the last three seasons…the Stingrays host Greenville on Friday.