After missing the Kelly Cup Playoffs in their inaugular ECHL season last year, the Evansville IceMen are making a strong case for inclusion in their second season in the league. Evansville is 5-0-3 in its last eight games, and is in second place of the North Division with an overall record of 17-7-6, and is just two points behind first-place Cincinnati.
Leading the resurgence has been the club’s new head coach Jeff Pyle. Earlier this season, Pyle moved into second place in ECHL history in career games coached with 890. Pyle has a career ECHL coaching record of 463-330-97, and he is just 18 wins shy of passing 2009 ECHL Hall of Fame inductee John Brophy for second place on the league’s all-time wins list.
Last week, Evansville hit the ice three times, posting a 2-0-1 record. The IceMen opened the week with a 6-0 home win against Gwinnett on Tuesday. Daultan Leveille led the way offensively for Evansville with four points (1g-3a) while Peter Sakaris scored a pair of goals. Garrett Bartus stopped all 42 shots he faced to earn his first professional shutout.
On Friday, the IceMen fell to Fort Wayne, 3-2 in overtime. Sakaris and Tristan King supplied goals for Evansville with Bartus making 22 saves in goal.
Evansville returned to the win column on Saturday, picking up a 2-1 overtime win at Fort Wayne. Jeremy Langlois scored both of the IceMen goals while Allen York, making his first appearance for Evansville since Dec. 7, stopped 30 of 31 Komets’ shots to pick up the win.
It’s been a balanced offensive effort for the IceMen this season as the club has no players among the top 17 scorers in the ECHL. However, five players have tallied at least 20 points, with Nathan Moon leading the way with 27 points (5g-22a). Langlois is right behind him with 26 points (12g-14a) in 21 games, and is tied for second among all ECHL rookies in scoring while his 12 goals are third among first-year players. Matt Krug leads ECHL defensemen in scoring with 21 points and his eight goals are tied for second among blue-liners.
Three different goaltenders have seen significant time in the crease this season for the IceMen. Bartus has gone 5-4-4 in his 13 appearances while Mike Clemente, who has spent the last month recalled to Springfield of the American Hockey League, has gone 9-2-2 with a 2.59 goals-against average and a .903 save percentage in 13 appearances. York has played four games with Evansville posting a 3-1-0 record.
The IceMen travel to Greenville this week for games on Friday, Saturday and Sunday before opening a 10-game home stand next week. Evansville has been one of the best teams in the ECHL at home this season going 11-2-3 at Ford Center, where the team ranks fifth with an average of 5,351 fans per game.