The Buffalo Sabres have signed an affiliation agreement with the Jacksonville Icemen of the ECHL, the professional developmental league for the American Hockey League and the National Hockey League, the team announced Monday.
Jacksonville joins the Rochester Americans, the Sabres’ AHL affiliate, as the chief minor league development teams for the Sabres’ organization.
“We are thrilled to partner with the Jacksonville Icemen as our new ECHL affiliate,” Sabres General Manager Kevyn Adams said. “This partnership marks an exciting new chapter for both organizations and further emphasizes our commitment to the growth and development of our players and staff. The Icemen’s dedication to excellence both on and off the ice, coupled with competitive conference play, made them a great fit for our new affiliate.”
The Icemen set club records for wins (44) and points (93) last season, finishing the season by pushing the Florida Everblades to six games in the South Division Championship series. The Everblades ended up winning the Kelly Cup.
Sabres Assistant Coach Jason Christie coached the Icemen for four seasons before joining Buffalo in 2021. He is the ECHL’s all-time leader in games coached (1,282) and wins (667).
Jacksonville was previously affiliated with the New York Rangers, who are now partnered with the Cincinnati Cyclones. Cincinnati served as Buffalo’s ECHL affiliate from 2017 until this past season.
The ECHL, formerly known as the East Coast Hockey League, is considered the premier “AA” professional hockey league and has sent hundreds of players, coaches, officials and administrators to the AHL and NHL ranks since its founding in 1988.