JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Jacksonville Icemen introduced Jason Christie as the team's head coach and vice president of hockey operations.
Christie had previously served as the head coach of the Tulsa Drillers of the ECHL, the same league as the Icemen. He has coached for 14 years and is a native of Gibbons, Alberta, Canada.
"I am excited to bring my experience, recruiting network, and most importantly, a winning culture to Jacksonville," said Christie. "After learning about the incredible reputation the team has gotten from the community and the ownership's commitment to winning on the ice, I can't wait to get started. I am committed to bringing Jacksonville fans a competitive culture and an exciting team."
The team will play in the ECHL in 2017-18. Team officials said that they have sold over 1,400 season tickets in advance of their first season in Jacksonville.
The team is relocating from Evansville, Indiana and has not played in the 2016-17 season, which is underway now. Opening night is set for October when the IceMen will begin a 36 game home schedule.
Ron Geary is the CEO, and Bob Ohrablo serves as team president. Those two are joined by Jacksonville-based Frank Ruperto to make up the ownership group of the team.
"Jacksonville is a natural fit for professional hockey," Geary said. "We look at the enthusiastic support current teams receive here and are excited to join them in providing Jacksonville fans with solid family-priced sports entertainment."
The franchise began its history as the Muskegon Fury in 1992. They rebranded to the Muskegon Lumberjacks in 2008 before moving to Evansville in 2010. The team had been granted approval to relocate to Owensboro, Kentucky, but that city could not receive financing for the renovations needed at their building.
The Icemen will be the 28th team in the ECHL and will join the Orlando SolarBears and Florida Everblades who play their home games in Estero, Fla., near Ft. Myers, as team in the Sunshine State.