Carolina Thunderbirds

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Carolina Thunderbirds
Founded 1981
Arena Winston-Salem Memorial Coliseum

The Carolina Thunderbirds were a professional ice hockey team located in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, USA. The Thunderbirds played their home games at the old Winston-Salem Memorial Coliseum before the arena was demolished in 1989. The team played in the Atlantic Coast Hockey League from 1981 to 1987, the All-American Hockey League during 1987-88 and finally moved into the newly created East Coast Hockey League in 1988.[1]

The Carolina Thunderbirds were one of five teams that played during the inaugural season of East Coast Hockey League.[2] In an effort to protect the league's image, ECHL commissioner Pat Kelly had suspended several of the Thunderbirds' players and, as a result, the Thunderbirds were forced to face the Johnstown Chiefs for the seventh and deciding game in the league's finals with just 11 skaters.[3] In spite of this hardship, the Carolina Thunderbirds won the first ever league championship,[4] and were awarded the Riley Cup for the 1988-89 ECHL season. John Torchetti, who would go on to become the head coach of the NHL's Florida Panthers, was a member of that championship squad.[5]

The team changed its name to the Winston-Salem Thunderbirds before the start of 1989–90 season, and the team remained in the ECHL until after the end of the 1991–92 season when it was announced by Ed Broyhill, Co-Owner, that the Winston-Salem club would be moving to West Virginia to play as the Wheeling Thunderbirds.[6]

Head coaches[edit]

Championships[edit]

  • 1982-83: ACHL regular season champions
  • 1982-83: ACHL play-off champions
  • 1983-84: ACHL regular season champions
  • 1984-85: ACHL regular season champions
  • 1985-86: ACHL regular season champions
  • 1985-86: ACHL play-off champions
  • 1987-88: AAHL play-off champions
  • 1988-89: ECHL play-off champions (Riley Cup)
Preceded by
Inaugural
ECHL Riley Cup Champions
1988-89
Succeeded by
Greensboro Monarchs

References[edit]

  1. ^ Scott, Jon C. (2006). Hockey Night in Dixie: Minor Pro Hockey in the American South. Heritage House Publishing Company Ltd. p. 138. ISBN 1-894974-21-2. 
  2. ^ Scott, Jon C. (2006). Hockey Night in Dixie: Minor Pro Hockey in the American South. Heritage House Publishing Company Ltd. p. 138. ISBN 1-894974-21-2. 
  3. ^ Scott, Jon C. (2006). Hockey Night in Dixie: Minor Pro Hockey in the American South. Heritage House Publishing Company Ltd. p. 139. ISBN 1-894974-21-2. 
  4. ^ http://www.hockeydb.com/ihdb/stats/leagues/seasons/echl19891989.html
  5. ^ Scott, Jon C. (2006). Hockey Night in Dixie: Minor Pro Hockey in the American South. Heritage House Publishing Company Ltd. p. 140. ISBN 1-894974-21-2. 
  6. ^ http://www.hockeydb.com/stte/wheeling-thunderbirds-8951.html