JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A year after first scheduled, the ECHL All-Star Classic finally came to Jacksonville, and the city and the Icemen enjoyed their moment on stage.
A game that was pushed back by the pandemic was the centerpiece of a spotlight opportunity for Jacksonville and the ECHL’s Icemen.
Truth be told, the game itself was just the final topper on a weekend of activities that brought fans and league and team personnel to town. Several hundred visitors were at Sunday’s Fan Fest and at the ECHL Hall of Fame banquet Monday afternoon. And Monday night, the announced attendance was 7,687, more than the top attendance team in the league, the Toledo Walleye, averages.
The game featured 21 goals, 14 by the ECHL all-stars and seven by the Icemen. Three of the 21 goals were awarded via the skills challenges which were held in the intermissions. The game also featured female professional players, including Sophia Shaver, who showed her accuracy in the shootout hitting all four targets in just six shots, and later tallying an assist on a goal for the All-Stars.
Two All-Stars stored a hat trick, M. Crawford and T. Hensik and O. Archambault finished the game with five assists. The Icemen were led by Abbot Girduckis who had a goal and an assist.
But the big winners were the Icemen’s reputation and the city of Jacksonville.
“Not just for the Icemen, but for the city, it really puts us into a different orbit,” Icemen president and partner Bob Orhablo said. “The entire pro hockey world is watching and we put on a good show. Hockey is in Jacksonville here to stay and we’re (showing) the world.”
The city was highlighted on NHL TV during the national broadcast of the event. Another opportunity to showcase how Jacksonville can put on big sporting events.
“We always talked about partnerships and that’s what visit Jacksonville has with each one of the teams we have here in town,” Visit Jacksonville president and CEO Michael Corrigan said. “It’s so important that we work together to bring fans into Jacksonville and educate people about what Jacksonville has to offer.”