By: Allan Westerholt
Director of Communications
HUNTERSVILLE, NC (October 20, 2022) – The Southern Professional Hockey League kicks off its 19th season Thursday night as the Huntsville Havoc visit the Pensacola Ice Flyers, followed by five games on Friday evening, including the reigning President’s Cup Champions Peoria Rivermen taking on the Quad City Storm. You can follow all the action this season at sphltv.com
Thursday October 20, 2022
Huntsville Havoc (0-0-0) at Pensacola Ice Flyers (0-0-0) 7:05 p.m. CT
After finishing as the regular season runner-up in 2021-22, Huntsville makes the trek down I-65 to kick off the season against the Pensacola Ice Flyers at the Pensacola Bay Center.
• Brennan Blaszczak finished second in goals scored last season with 31 in 45 games for Pensacola.
• Huntsville goaltender Hunter Vorva led all goalies with a 22-8-1 record, 1.93 GAA and a .934 save percentage last season en route to being named SPHL Goaltender of the Year
• Last season when scoring first, Huntsville was 29-4 while Pensacola held a 24-6 record.
• Huntsville and Pensacola were among the league leaders in attendance last season, with Huntsville topping the league with a 4,811 average and Pensacola ranking third with 3,487 fans per game
Friday October 21, 2022
Fayetteville Marksmen (0-0-0) at Roanoke Rail Yard Dawgs (0-0-0) 7:05 p.m. ET
Fayetteville and Roanoke, separated by just three and a half hours, will drop the puck on their 2022-23 season Friday evening.
• Fayetteville’s Donald Olivieri was the top scoring defenseman in the league as he tallied 46 points (15 g, 31 a) in 54 games last season. Roanoke also had the third highest scoring defenseman as Travis Armstrong tallied 41 points (7 g, 34 a) in 54 games played.
• Roanoke and Fayetteville played 17 times in 2021-22, with Fayetteville posting an 11-5-1-0 record in those matchups
• Fayetteville will look to continue their hot starts as they were third in the league last season with 72 goals scored and just 37 allowed in the opening period of play
• Roanoke will try to make a push back to the President’s Cup Championship as they fell short to the Peoria Rivermen three games to one
Huntsville Havoc (0-0-0) at Macon Mayhem (0-0-0) 7:30 p.m. ET
Huntsville will travel from Pensacola to Macon on Friday as the Mayhem open their 2022-23 campaign.
• Macon goaltender Michael Stiliadis finished tied for third in the league last season with 917 saves
Evansville Thunderbolts (0-0-0) at Knoxville Ice Bears (0-0-0) 7:35 p.m. ET
The reigning regular season champion Knoxville Ice Bears will drop the puck on their 2022-23 season by welcoming the Evansville Thunderbolts to town.
• Knoxville posted a league best 42-10-2-2 record last season including a 23-4-1-0 home ice record
• Knoxville’s Jason Price had the best +/- rating last season with a +46 en route to winning the SPHL Defenseman of the Year award
• When leading after the second period, Evansville was nearly perfect, going 24-3-0-0, which was 6th best in the league for that category. They were also tied for second in the league when leading after two periods at home, going 16-1-0-0
• Brent Clarke takes over for Knoxville as Jeff Carr, the reigning SPHL Coach of the Year, departed for the ECHL’s Norfolk Admirals as an assistant coach
Birmingham Bulls (0-0-0) at Vermillion County Bobcats (0-0-0) 7:00 p.m. CT
Birmingham will drop the puck on their 2022-23 season by traveling to Illinois to take on the Vermillion County Bobcats in their season opener.
• Last season, Vermillion did not give up any goals in five attempts in its only shootout of the season, a 2-1 win against the eventual champions, the Peoria Rivermen
• The teams split the season series 1-1-0-0, with both games played at David S. Palmer Arena in Danville
• Birmingham goalie Hayden Stewart finished fourth in the league in shutouts with three. He also finished third in saves with 917 while playing the fifth-most minutes by a goaltender last season with 1808 minutes on the ice
• The Bulls’ Carson Rose finished second amongst rookies with 24 goals in 50 games last season, and finished eighth in points with 41 (24 g, 17 a)
Peoria Rivermen (0-0-0) at Quad City Storm (0-0-0) 7:10 p.m. CT
The reigning 2021-22 President’s Cup Champions will open defense of their title on the road as they take on the Quad City Storm.
• Last season, Peoria took down the Roanoke Rail Yard Dawgs in a five-game series, winning the title three games to one, with the clincher coming on an overtime game winner by JM Piotrowski
• Rookie Michael Moran had a 100% success rate on shootouts last season going 3-3 for Quad City. Goalie Peter Di Salvo also posted a perfect save percentage in shootouts as he was 4-4 in similar situations
• Storm defenseman Joe Sova was named to the All-SPHL Second Team
• Peoria’s Marcel Godbout led all rookies last season in points (61), goals (33), power-play goals (13), and power-play points (23) en route to being named the SPHL Rookie of the Year
• Rivermen forward Alec Baer was named the SPHL Most Valuable Player after leading the league in assists (54), power-play points (33) and power-play assists (26)