On May 13, 2013, it was reported by the Journal Star that after being told the city would no longer have an AHL team, former Rivermen executives John Butler and Bart Rogers and former Rivermen owner Bruce Saurs announced that they had applied for admission into the Southern Professional Hockey League in an attempt to save hockey in Peoria. The SPHL is a low-minor hockey league with teams mostly based in the southeastern United States. Butler and Rogers' plan also included for the group to purchase the Bloomington Blaze of the struggling Central Hockey League and also move them to the SPHL. There was an SPHL Board of Governors and franchise general managers emergency conference call scheduled for the morning of May 14, 2013 to decide on the admission of the Rivermen and the Blaze.
On May 15, 2013, it was officially announced that the team had been accepted into the SPHL, along with the newly-named Bloomington Thunder, ending the uncertainty of whether Peoria would have a hockey team in the coming year. They and the Thunder are the only franchises in the SPHL outside of the southern United States.