After an absence of nearly a decade, it looks like minor-league hockey is returning to Jacksonville.
WFIE in Owensboro, KY reported that the Owensboro Icemen of the ECHL (Eastern Coast Hockey League) are in the process of being moved to Jacksonville.
The franchise’s move was reportedly approved during a meeting of the league’s board of trustees last week.
The Icemen were moving to Owensboro from Evansville, IN, but faced complications with securing plans for a home arena.
Meanwhile, Jacksonville has been actively pursuing a return to minor-league hockey. FloridaPolitics.com reported in September 2015 that a group called Bold Sports and Entertainment Group was looking into bringing an ECHL franchise to the city. They planned to invest money into improvements for the Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena, where they would play their home games.
This would not be Jacksonville’s first entry into the ECHL. The Jacksonville Lizard Kings played in the league from 1995 to 2000 before going out of business.
Indeed, Jacksonville has a rather rich history of minor-league hockey action. The Icemen would be the city’s first hockey team since the Jacksonville Barracudas ceased play in 2008.
The franchise was founded in 1992, and began playing in the ECHL in 2012. The team went 29-33 in 2015-16, their last season in Owensboro. They did not qualify for the playoffs.
The ECHL was founded in 1988. It currently has 27 active teams – not including the relocated Jacksonville franchise. The Owensboro team was one of two expected additions for the 2017-18.
No word yet on if the franchise will change its name or branding to correspond with their relocation.