By Carter Brooks
Photos by Gary McCullough and Bob Self
The Winnipeg Jets and Manitoba Moose have solidified their pipeline.
This past week True North Sports + Entertainment announced that the ECHL’s Jacksonville Icemen will remain the Jets’ ECHL affiliate team for the 2019-20 hockey season.
Jacksonville entered the ECHL in the 2016-17 season, serving as the tier II affiliate team for the Jets on a recall basis. When in need of players due to injury or emergency NHL loan, the Manitoba Moose turn to the Icemen to fill empty roster slots. In 72 regular season games in 2018-19, the Icemen went 36-32-4, losing in six games in their first round ECHL playoff series with the Florida Everblades.
During the 2018-19 season, the Jets, Moose and Icemen participated in 39 total team transactions. Two Jacksonville players signed tryouts mid-season with Manitoba, while eight different players bounced between the Moose and Icemen.
Jacksonville also announced a multi-year contract extension for Head Coach Jason Christie. The 50-year-old Gibbons, AB. native has been the Jets' ECHL affiliate Head Coach since returning to Manitoba in 2011. After a very successful four-year career with the Saskatoon Blades of the Western Hockey League, that saw the former right-winger pick up 115 goals and 290 points in 279 regular season games, Christie played one season in Great Britain and then continued his professional career from 1990-2000, bouncing between the AHL and ECHL.
Since finishing his playing career in 2000, the former ECHL Kelly Cup Playoffs MVP has gone on to become the ECHL's most winningest coach, having collected 609 regular season victories in 16 seasons with the Peoria Rivermen, Utah Grizzlies, Ontario Reign, Tulsa Oilers and Jacksonville Icemen. Christie also spent three seasons away from the ECHL from 2008-11 where he was a part of the coaching staff of the Chicago Wolves and the Bloomington Prairie Thunder.