Players are sharpening their skates and the Zamboni is laying a new coat of ice down as hockey returns to Jacksonville.
"I can’t wait to hear the decibel levels in here on opening night," IceMen president Bob Ohrablo said looking into the stands of Veterans Memorial Arena.
It’s the slapshots and skating that’s music to Bob Ohrablo’s ears during the team's final practice before the season begins. He is no stranger to the sport – having dedicated most of his working life to game, and it’s his new team that he hopes will be an ambassador to the Bold City.
"We found that there are a lot of hockey fans here, so we’re like, I’m glad someone else didn’t think of this first, Ohrablo said.
At the helm, Ohrablo tapped the ECHL’s winningest coach: Jason Christie.
"Coach Christie has put together a team that’s going to be very up tempo and physical, so we’re going to have a lot of fun in here," Ohrablo said.
Scrappers and goal scorers.
For those unfamiliar with the game, it’ll at least be lively entertainment.
"If you don’t know hockey, you’ve got to come see it in person, it’s not a TV sport you have to come see hockey in person and you’ll leave here just going wow I can’t believe I missed that my whole life," Ohrablo said.
So many want to see them in person that the 9,000 tickets up for grabs: sold-out nearly a week before the game.Ohrablo added while they could fit more fans, there’s a reason why the team wants it just the way it is for now.
"We wanted to create a more intimate atmosphere, which would make it more exciting for the fans and make it better for the players. I wouldn’t want to be a visiting team in here," Ohrablo said.
Jacksonville hosts the Orlando Solar Bears October 14.