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 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 over Macon.
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 while the Orlando Seals relocate to Kissimmee and are renamed the Florida Seals. The league operates with seven teams.
Keith Jeffries becomes the second league commissioner and the league office moves to Huntsville, Alabama.
Teams will now 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 and becoming the first team to win both trophies in the same season.
2006-07 – The SPHL adds the Richmond (VA) Renegades as an expansion team and ices eight teams.
The Florida Seals franchise is terminated on January 5, 2007 after 26 games.
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 its inception.
The regular season schedule is reduced from 56 to 52 games.
The Pee Dee Cyclones relocate 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 as they defeated Jacksonville in the finals.
2008-09 – The SPHL celebrates its 5th anniversary season.
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, Knoxville becomes 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 (FL) Ice Flyers joining the league. 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 moves to Charlotte, North Carolina and Doug Price is named 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 dropped the puck 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.
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.
The Columbus Cottonmouths capture their second President’s Cup championship, sweeping Pensacola in the finals two games to none.
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.
Pensacola captures their second-consecutive President’s Cup Championship, defeating Columbus two games to none. En route to the title the Ice Pilots set several new regular season league records, including most points (81), wins (38) and highest average attendance (4,090).
Goaltender Shannon Szabados, a two-time Olympic gold medalist with the Canadian women’s hockey team, became the first female to play in the SPHL when she started in net for the Columbus Cottonmouths against Knoxville on March 15, 2014. Szabados stopped 27 shots in a 4-3 loss to the Ice Bears.
The Augusta RiverHawks announce they will be moving to Macon, GA for the 2015-16 season and taking the ice as the Macon Mayhem.
2014-15 – The SPHL begins its second decade of play with eight teams, as the Bloomington Thunder and Mississippi Surge both suspend operations for the season. With the change, the SPHL adopts a new, six-team playoff format.
The SPHL partners with NeuLion, Inc. to deliver live and on-demand content for all SPHL games across a variety of platforms.
Goaltender Scott Darling becomes the first former SPHL player to play in the National Hockey League on October 26, 2014. Darling, who played for the Louisiana IceGators and Mississippi RiverKings from 2010-2012, makes 32 saves in a 2-1 win over the Ottawa Senators in his NHL debut. Darling posted a 9-4 record in the regular season before going 3-1 in the playoffs, helping the Blackhawks to the Stanley Cup Championship.
Columbus’ Shannon Szabados, a two-time Olympic gold medalist with the Canadian women’s hockey team, becomes the first female goaltender to win an SPHL game when she defeated Fayetteville on November 21, 2014. Szabados finished the season with a 15-9-1 record, which included an eight-game winning streak.
That same day, referees Erin Blair and Katie Guay became the first women to officiate an SPHL game, working the Cottonmouths’ Girl Scout Night game against Fayetteville.
The SPHL sets a new regular season attendance record with an average of 3,248 per game.
The Knoxville Ice Bears claimed their record fourth President’s Cup Championship, defeating Mississippi two games to none in the finals.
2015-16 – The SPHL begins its 12th season of play with nine teams as the Macon Mayhem (formerly Augusta RiverHawks) return to the ice.
The SPHL announced the move of the Mississippi Surge to Roanoke, VA and the Bloomington Thunder to Evansville, IN.
The Peoria Rivermen set several league records in capturing their second SPHL regular season championship, including marks for most points (83), most wins (39), longest winning streak (14 games) and longest road winning streak (12 games).
The Huntsville Havoc established a new league attendance mark by drawing 117,298 fans to their games, an average of 4,189 per contest. The Havoc’s record season also featured six sellouts.
The Pensacola Ice Flyers claimed their third President’s Cup Championship in four years, defeating the Peoria Rivermen three games to none. Pensacola’s Josh Cousineau scored the cup-winning goal with less than a second remaining in regulation and was featured on ESPN’s Top Plays.
Due to extensive renovations at the Cajundome, the Louisiana IceGators are forced to suspend operations for the 2016-2017 season.
2016-17 – The SPHL begins its 13th season of play with ten teams, as the Evansville Thunderbolts and Roanoke Rail Yard Dawgs take to the ice for their inaugural seasons.
After finishing eighth the previous season, the Macon Mayhem pulled off one the biggest year-to-year turnarounds as they captured both the William B. Coffey Trophy as regular season champions and the President’s Cup, defeating Peoria two games to none.
Following the season, the Columbus Cottonmouths announced they would be suspending operations for the 2017-2018 season.
2017-18 – The SPHL adds the Birmingham (AL) Bulls to the fold as the league enters its 14th season of play.
A new playoff format was announced whereby the SPHL will conduct a Challenge Round Selection event with all eight playoff teams participating. For the Challenge Round, the top three teams from the regular season will have the opportunity to select their first round opponent from the teams seeded 5-8. The #1 seed will select their Challenge Round opponent first. The #2 seed will then select their opponent from the remaining three teams, after which the #3 seed will select from the remaining two teams. The #4 seed will play the team that was not selected previously.
The Peoria Rivermen claimed the William B. Coffey trophy as regular season champions for the third time in four seasons.
The fourth-seeded Huntsville Havoc captured their second President’s Cup Championship, defeating Peoria two games to one. Huntsville also established a new regular-season attendance record, averaging 4,774 fans and breaking their own record of 4,648 set the previous season.
Following the season, the Mississippi RiverKings announced they would be suspending operations for the 2018-2019 season.
Former NHL official Andy McElman is named the league’s Director of Officiating.
2018-19 – The SPHL enters its 15th season of play with 10 teams, as the Quad City Storm (Moline, IL) joins the league.
On January 17, 2019, Doug Price was named the league’s fourth Commissioner while Andy McElman is promoted to Vice President of Hockey Operations.
The Peoria Rivermen won their second consecutive William B. Coffey trophy as regular season champions.
The Huntsville Havoc led the SPHL in attendance for the fourth consecutive season, again breaking their own record by averaging 4,932 fans per game.
The second season of the SPHL Challenge Round saw its first major upset as the fifth-seeded Roanoke Rail Yard Dawgs upset Peoria in two games.
Huntsville became just the third team to win back-to-back championships as the Havoc defeated the Birmingham Bulls two games to none.
2019-20 – The SPHL begins its 16th season of play, returning all 10 teams from the previous year.
The SPHL enters into a historic licensing agreement with Marvel, Nickelodeon, Peanuts and Mossy Oak whereby all 10 teams will have a specialty night with jerseys featuring each of the four partners.
On March 15, 2020, the Southern Professional Hockey League cancelled the remainder of the 2019-2020 regular season and playoffs due to the worldwide COVID-19 (coronavirus) outbreak. This cancellation came two days after the league had initially suspended the 2019-2020 season.
2020-21 – The SPHL’s 17th season will be one like no other in its history. Due to the continuing Coronavirus pandemic and state and local restrictions on large gatherings, five teams (Evansville, Fayetteville, Peoria, Quad City and Roanoke) are forced to sit out the 2020-2021 season. The remaining five teams (Birmingham, Huntsville, Knoxville, Macon and Pensacola) are part of a shortened 42-game schedule that is delayed until Saturday, December 26.
The league enters into a new streaming and statistical partnership with HockeyTech. SPHL TV will deliver live and on-demand content for all SPHL games across a variety of platforms.