SPHL Network

HISTORY OF THE SPHL

2004-05

The Southern Professional Hockey League is founded with nine teams taking the ice; the Asheville (NC) Aces, Columbus (GA) Cottonmouths, Fayetteville (NC) FireAntz, Huntsville (AL) Havoc,  Jacksonville (FL) Barracudas, Knoxville (TN) Ice Bears, Macon (GA) Trax, Orlando (FL) Seals and the Winston-Salem (NC) Polar Twins. The Orlando franchise is inactive during the 2004-05 season. Teams will play a 56-game regular season schedule.

Tom Coolen is named the SPHL's first commissioner and the league office is established in Asheville, North Carolina.

The Knoxville Ice Bears capture the Commissioner's Cup as the regular season champions. The fifth-place Columbus Cottonmouths go a perfect 5-0 in the playoffs, scoring upsets in three playoff series to win the President's Cup title.


2005-06

Asheville, Macon, and Winston-Salem cease operations prior to the season. The Pee Dee Cyclones, based in Florence, South Carolina, become the SPHL's first expansion team and the Orlando Seals relocate to Kissimmee and are renamed the Florida Seals. The league operates as a seven-team circuit.

Keith Jeffries becomes the second league commissioner and the league office moves to Huntsville, Alabama.

Teams will receive one point in the regular season standings for an overtime or shootout loss.

Knoxville captures their second straight Commissioner's Cup and first President's Cup, defeating Florida in four games. The Ice Bears become the first team to win both trophies in the same season.


2006-07

The SPHL adds the Richmond (Virginia) Renegades as an expansion team and ices eight teams.

The Florida Seals' franchise is terminated midseason on January 5, 2007.

Columbus breaks Knoxville's hold on the regular season championship, while the Fayetteville FireAntz capture their first President's Cup, defeating Jacksonville in four games.


2007-08

Jim Combs is named the third commissioner of the SPHL.

The regular season championship trophy is renamed the William B. Coffey Trophy. Coffey, one of the league's founders, has been the SPHL's Director of Hockey Operations since the loop's inception. The regular season schedule is reduced from 56 to 52 games.

The Pee Dee Cyclones relocated to Winston-Salem, North Carolina before the season and are renamed the Twin City Cyclones.

The Knoxville Ice Bears capture both the regular season and playoff championships in the same season for the second time in three years, winning their third regular season title and second President's Cup overall.


2008-09

The SPHL celebrates its 5th Anniversary season and becomes the only professional hockey league solely based in the Southeastern United States to reach this milestone.

The regular season schedule is increased from 52 to 60 games.

The Jacksonville Barracudas voluntarily suspend operations for one year. The SPHL operates with six teams, including four original franchises - Columbus, Fayetteville, Huntsville and Knoxville.

After capturing their fourth regular season title in five years, the Knoxville Ice Bears become the league's first back-to-back President's Cup Champion, defeating Fayetteville in a thrilling five-game series.


2009-10

Three expansion teams are added for the SPHL's sixth season with the (Lafayette) Louisiana IceGators, (Biloxi) Mississippi Surge and Pensacola (Florida) Ice Flyers dropping the puck in October.  The memberships of the Jacksonville Barracudas and Richmond Renegades are terminated while the Twin City Cyclones voluntarily suspend operations for the 2009-10 season.

After going to 60 games the previous season, the regular season is reduced to 56 games.

The SPHL office relocates to Charlotte, North Carolina and names Doug Price as the league's new Vice President of Hockey Administration.

The Huntsville Havoc capture their first-ever President's Cup, sweeping regular season champion Mississippi in the finals, three games to none.


2010-11

For the second straight season, an expansion team joins the SPHL as the Augusta (GA) RiverHawks begin play in October.

This season, teams will no longer receive a point for a shootout or overtime loss.

After taking their second consecutive regular season title, the Mississippi Surge avenged last year's playoff heartbreak by sweeping Augusta in the President's Cup Finals, three games to none.


2011-12

The SPHL continues its recent growth as the Mississippi RiverKings become the league's ninth member.

After a one year hiatus, teams will again receive one point in the regular season standings for an overtime or shootout loss.

The number of teams making the President's Cup Playoffs is increased from six to eight.
 

2012-13

For the first time in four seasons, no new teams join the SPHL as the league begins its ninth season of play.

The Pensacola Ice Flyers win their first President’s Cup, defeating Huntsville two games to one.  Entering the playoffs as the eighth seed, the Havoc upset regular-season champion Fayetteville and second-seeded Louisiana to earn a trip to the finals.

The SPHL sets new post-season attendance records with an average of 3,126 per game.  Of the top-10 highest attended playoff games in SPHL history, seven took place during the 2013 President’s Cup.


2013-14

The SPHL enters its 10th Anniversary season with several changes.  The Bloomington Thunder and Peoria Rivermen join the league as expansion teams, expanding the league’s footprint into the Midwestern United States.

The Augusta RiverHawks are forced to suspend operations for the 2013-14 season due to ongoing problems with the ice plant at James Brown Arena.  The same problems forced the RiverHawks to play their final eight home games at a practice facility last season.

Former NHL referee Mark Faucette is named the league’s Director of Officiating.