ECHL Notebook: Panetta, Harris Returning to Jacksonville Icemen

By Mike Bonts
JACKSONVILLE ( -- The Jacksonville Icemen announced that the team has agreed to terms with forward Brendan Harris and defenseman Jacob Panetta for the 2023-24 season.    

Harris, 27, returns for his third season with the Icemen where he recorded career highs in points (49), goals (15) and assists (34) in 56 games played last season.   

The 5-9, 175-pound forward was acquired by the Icemen from the Wheeling Nailers during the 2021-22 season and went on to post 30 points (12g, 18a) in 39 regular games, and led the Icemen in playoff scoring that spring posting eight points in eight appearances.    

Harris registered seven points in 19 games with the Nailers near the end of the 2020-21 season.   Prior to beginning his professional career, the Henderson, Nevada resident finished second in scoring with 23 points during his senior season at Bemidji State University in 2020-21.  He completed his four-year collegiate career with 56 points.   

Panetta, 27, returns for a fourth season in Jacksonville where he posted 22 points with a career-high nine goals last season.  The 6-0, 192-pound blue liner has totaled 46 points (14g, 32a) in 107 career Icemen and ECHL contests.    

Prior to his time in Jacksonville, Panetta played four seasons at Colgate University registering 25 points.  The Belleville, Ontario resident finished the 2015-16 season with 45 points (9g, 36a) in 47 games played with the OJHL’s Wellington Dukes.

Harris and Panetta join forwards Matheson Iacopelli and Chris Grando along with defenseman Julian Kislin as players who have agreed to terms with the Icemen for the upcoming season. 

Around the South: The Greenville Swamp Rabbits, ECHL affiliate of the LA Kings, have re-signed defensemen Bobby Russell and Ethan Cap, forward Tanner Eberle and returning forward Ben Freeman to an ECHL contract ahead of the 2023-24 campaign.  

Freeman, 27, returns to the Swamp Rabbits for a third season, having appeared in 127 games in the Navy and Orange between 2021 and 2023. In 65 games during the 2022-23 season, Freeman posted a career-high 13 goals and tied his career-high of 32 points before leading the Swamp Rabbits with four (4) goals and six (6) points during the 2023 Kelly Cup Playoffs. 

Cap, 23, returns to the Swamp Rabbits after posting a career-high 21 points (2g, 19a) in 70 games for the Navy and Orange during the 2022-23 campaign. In two seasons as a professional, both with Greenville, the North Vancouver, British Columbia native made 123 appearances for the Swamp Rabbits and tallied 32 points (3g, 29a). During the 2023 Kelly Cup Playoffs, Cap skated in six (6) games and tabbed four (4) assists during Greenville's opening-round series. 

Eberle, 29, returns for a second season in Greenville after appearing in 61 games for the Navy and Orange, recording a career-high 49 points (24g, 25a). The 2022-23 campaign saw the winger post high-water marks in goals, assists, and power-play tallies while landing him third on the team in total scoring.

Russell, 23, re-signs for a third season in the Navy and Orange after dawning the Swamp Rabbits sweater 60 times during the 2022-23 season. The blue-liner recorded a career-high 17 points (2g, 15a) during his sophomore professional season. 

In 103 games in Greenville, the Langley, BC native has produced 31 points (7g, 24a) while also posting a goal and three assists in six Kelly Cup Playoff games.  

The Orlando Solar Bears and forward Aaron Luchuk agreed to terms for the 2023-24 season on an ECHL standard player contact. Luchuk, 26, returns to the Solar Bears for his third season with the team after appearing in 103 regular season games from 2020-2022. 

Luchuk led the entire ECHL in scoring during the 2020-21 season, scoring 28 goals and adding 46 assists for 74 points, setting ECHL Solar Bears all-time, single-season marks in assists and points. 

The South Carolina Stingrays affiliate of the NHL's Washington Capitals and AHL's Hershey Bears, have agreed to terms with forward Jack Adams for the 2023-24 season. Adams, 26, was the Stingrays' first acquisition of the 2023 offseason.

Florida Everblades have agreed to terms with forward Andrew Fyten and forward Tommy Apap.
Apap, 27, will be playing his fourth season of professional hockey. The Bloomfield Hills, Michigan local started his professional career with the Indy Fuel of the ECHL in 2020-21, split the next season between the Fuel and the AHL’s Milwaukee Admirals, and then spent all of last season with the Admirals. 

He had two goals and five assists in 44 games last season, and has recorded eight goals and 18 assists over 122 professional games in

Fyten, 24, signed with Florida late last season as a rookie from Mount Royal University in Calgary. The Sundre, Alberta local started strong and finished the season with five goals and five assists in 21 games. He also skated in 12 postseason games during the Everblades Kelly Cup run. 
The Atlanta Gladiators have re-signed defensemen Dylan Carabia and Brayden Crowder, forward Mitch Walinski and goaltender Tyler Harmon for the 2023-24 season.

Harmon, 25, signed with Atlanta on March 7, 2023, and made his debut that night, kicking off his professional career with a 2-1 victory over the Greenville Swamp Rabbits. Walinski, 24, signed with the Gladiators straight out of Salve Regina University, on March 8th, 2023.

Carabia, 27, signed with Atlanta on August 17, 2022, following one season in the SPHL with the Pensacola Ice Flyers. With Pensacola, Carabia accrued 39 points (8g-31a), and a +16 rating in just 55 games played, which earned the blueliner SPHL All-Rookie Team honors for the 2021-2022 season.

Crowder, 24, was traded to the Gladiators from the Cincinnati Cyclones, on March 16th, 2023. Before coming to Atlanta, Crowder split time between Cincinnati and Wichita, recording one assist in nine games with the Thunder, and five points (1g-4a) in 20 games with the Cyclones. The 6-6, 209-pound defenseman skated in 11 games with Atlanta following the trade, adding one assist and a +3 rating.


The South Carolina Stingrays have named Owen Gund as the team’s Director of Communications and Broadcasting. 

Gund, 23, is a recent graduate of Boston University, where he served as sports co-director for the student radio station WTBU. Gund called games for the five-time national champion BU men’s ice hockey team. In 2023, Gund broadcasted the Terriers’ run to the Frozen Four in Tampa, Florida. Gund also called Massachusetts high school hockey games for the streaming service MyHockeyLive.

Gund will oversee communications efforts for the team and will be the lead play-by-play voice for all Stingrays home and away games this season.


The Florida Everblades Assistant Coach Jesse Kallechy has been named the new head coach for the Fort Wayne Komets. 

Kallechy, who has served as an assistant coach with the Florida Everblades for the past three seasons, takes over for Ben Boudreau. 
Kallechy, 33, is a native of Sherwood Park, Alberta. He played college hockey at Ferris State University, where he was a two-time All-WCHA Second Team selection at goaltender. After college, Kallechy played professionally for four seasons in the ECHL and SPHL. 

Kallechy began his coaching career as an assistant coach with the Huntsville Havoc in the SPHL from 2015-18 and then became the head coach/director of hockey operations with the Fayetteville Marksmen from 2018-20. He joined the Everblades in 2020-21, and helped the team win Kelly Cup championships in 2022 and 2023.

Around the league: The ECHL announced that the League’s Board of Governors has approved the Transfer of Controlling Interest in the Iowa Heartlanders Membership from Deacon Sports and Entertainment to Heartlanders Hockey, LLC, an entity controlled by Michael Devlin..... the League’s Board of Governors has approved the expansion application of Lake Tahoe for admittance into the League.
The team, which will be named later, will be owned by 2007 Heisman Trophy winner, and former National Football League quarterback, Tim Tebow, along with David Hodges, CEO of Hodges Management Group, LLC. The team will be managed and operated by Zawyer Sports & Entertainment.

(SportsDay's Mike Bonts covers the NHL and ECHL for Florida Sports Wire)

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