JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – It was quite a way to open a season. A sell-out crowd and a first period that featured five goals. And a win.
The Jacksonville Icemen opened the sixth season of the franchise with a resounding 5-2 victory over the Orlando Solar Bears Saturday at the Vystar Veterans Memorial Arena.
The first period was a flurry of scoring. Just over two minutes into the game, Victor Hadfield. Alex Whelan was credited with the assist.
Just over four minutes later, Whelan made his presence felt again as he made it 2-0 when he put in a rebound in front of the Orlando Goal.
But the Solar Bears battled back. With 11:12 left in the first period, Michael Brodzinsky found the net for the visitors. Less than a minute later, Dmitry Semykin equalized. The first period was less than halfway over, but the goals were yet to stop.
With less than six and a half minutes to play in the first period, the Icemen captain Christopher Brown turned a defender around and scored on a streak to the goal to give Jacksonville the 3-2 lead.
The goal parade was put on hold for over 40 minutes. Until, with under three minutes left in the third period, Ara Nazarian took a feed from Whelan and scored an insurance goal. In the final minute, Brandon Fortunato scored for Jacksonville on an empty net goal to provide the final margin, 5-2.
Jacksonville dominated the action, taking 37 shots on goal to Orlando’s 17. Five of the six power plays had the Icemen at a man advantage, though Orlando didn’t allow a power play goal all night.
The Icemen will see plenty of their in-state rivals to start the season. On Sunday, Jacksonville plays at Orlando, then again on Wednesday. After that, three games in Estero against the Florida Everblades on Oct. 29, Nov. 4 and Nov. 5. The Icemen then return home to face the South Carolina Stingrays on Nov. 8.