Roanoke Express

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Roanoke Express
City Roanoke, Virginia
League ECHL
Division Southern Division
Founded 1993
Home arena Roanoke Civic Center
Colors

Black, Red, White,Hunter Green

              
Owner(s) John Gagnon, Pierre Paiement, Joseph Steffen
Affiliates independent
Franchise history
1993–2004 Roanoke Express
Championships
Regular season titles None
Division Championships 1998, 1999, 2000
Kelly Cups None

The Roanoke Express were a team in the ECHL from 1993 until 2004. Home games were played at the Roanoke Civic Center in Roanoke, Virginia.

History[edit]

Roanoke Valley's first minor league ice hockey team, called the Salem Rebels, played its inaugural season at the Salem Civic Center in the 1967-1968 season with Jim Jago as team captain. The first season had some sparse crowds of less than 1,000 in the 4,848 seat arena. Over the next few years, the team developed a fanbase and a number of games were sold out. In 1971, the team moved to the newly built Roanoke Civic Center near downtown Roanoke and were renamed the Roanoke Valley Rebels.

For most of the 1980s and early 1990s, various teams such as the Virginia Lancers and Roanoke Valley Rampage played in a custom built facility called the LancerLot in Vinton. The Virginia Lancers were owned by Henry Brabham, who also owned a chain of convenience stores named Lancer Mart. The roof of the LancerLot collapsed as a result of heavy snowfall during the Blizzard of 1993 resulting in hockey moving back to the Roanoke Civic Center.

Joining the ECHL[edit]

The Express proved to be a success both on the ice and in drawing more fans than previous hockey teams in the Roanoke Valley. During the mid to late 1990s, some crowds nearly filled the over 9,000 seat civic center. In 1995-1996, average attendance was 5,679. The team's hard-nosed style of play reflected their coach, Frank Anzalone, who later coached the ECHL's Johnstown Chiefs. The Express typically had outstanding goalkeeping with Daniel Berthiaume and Dave Gagnon. The team continued to be successful, and in fact reached new heights, after Anzalone left for the Lowell Lock Monsters and was replaced by Scott Gordon.

However, by the early 2000s, the novelty of hockey in the Roanoke Civic Center had worn off and the team's inability to advance deep into the playoffs led to a frustrated fanbase and sagging attendance. Turmoil in management and ownership contributed to bad press for the team and less effective marketing than in the team's early years. The Express folded after the 2003-2004 season.

Notable players[edit]

External links[edit]