Southern Professional Hockey League
|Current season or competition:
2013–14 SPHL season
|No. of teams||10|
|Most recent champion(s)||Pensacola Ice Flyers
|Most titles||Knoxville Ice Bears (3)|
The Southern Professional Hockey League (SPHL) is a professional ice hockey league based in Huntersville, North Carolina, with teams located in the southeastern United States and Illinois in the midwestern United States.
The SPHL's history traces back to three other short-lived leagues. The Atlantic Coast Hockey League started play in the 2002–03 season. After its only season, the ACHL dissolved with member teams forming the nucleus for two rival leagues, the South East Hockey League and the World Hockey Association 2. After one season the SEHL and WHA2 disbanded, with their surviving teams rejoining with two expansion teams to form the SPHL, commencing with the 2004–05 season.
In 2009, the SPHL saw a large expansion as three new franchises in Biloxi, Mississippi, Lafayette, Louisiana and Pensacola, Florida. In 2010, the league added an expansion team in Augusta, Georgia, another former long time ECHL market. For the 2011–12 season, the league added 2-time Central Hockey League champions, the Mississippi RiverKings. For the 2013–14 season, the league expanded northward with two franchises in Illinois: the Bloomington Thunder, a new team replacing the CHL's Bloomington Blaze, and the Peoria Rivermen, who are replacing an American Hockey League club of the same name in that market.
|Bloomington Thunder||Bloomington, Illinois||U.S. Cellular Coliseum||2013||Greg Pankewicz|
|Columbus Cottonmouths||Columbus, Georgia||Columbus Civic Center||1996||2004||Jerome Bechard|
|Fayetteville FireAntz||Fayetteville, North Carolina||Cumberland County Crown Coliseum||2002||2004||Greg McCauley|
|Huntsville Havoc||Huntsville, Alabama||Von Braun Center||2004||Glenn Detulleo|
|Knoxville Ice Bears||Knoxville, Tennessee||Knoxville Civic Auditorium and Coliseum||2002||2004||Mike Craigen|
|Louisiana IceGators||Lafayette, Louisiana||Cajundome||1995||2009||Kevin Kaminski|
|Mississippi RiverKings||Southaven, Mississippi (Memphis area)||Lander's Center||1992||2011||Derek Landmesser|
|Mississippi Surge||Biloxi, Mississippi||Mississippi Coast Coliseum||2009||Jeff Bes|
|Pensacola Ice Flyers||Pensacola, Florida||Pensacola Civic Center||2009||Rod Aldoff|
|Peoria Rivermen||Peoria, Illinois||Carver Arena||2013||Jean-Guy Trudel|
- Asheville Aces (2004–05)
- Florida Seals (2005–07; membership terminated in the middle of the 2006–07 SPHL season)
- Jacksonville Barracudas (2004–08; suspended for the 08–09 and 09–10 seasons and dissolved)
- Macon Trax (2004–05)
- Pee Dee Cyclones (2005–07; moved to Winston-Salem, North Carolina)
- Richmond Renegades (2006–09)
- Twin City Cyclones (2007–09) 
- Winston-Salem Polar Twins (2004–05)
- Augusta RiverHawks (2010–13; suspended for the 13–14 season due to ice system failure at the James Brown Arena)
Key rule differences
As per minor leagues, there are some rule differences between the SPHL and the NHL (and even the ECHL, AHL and the CHL, the three official developmental leagues regulated by the Professional Hockey Players' Association.
- A team may dress sixteen regular players to a game. Two players dressed for the game will be goaltenders.
- There is no trapezoid restriction limiting the goaltender playing the puck and is eligible to play the puck anywhere on his side of the center redline.
- Changed for the 2012-13 season
- A mouthpiece is required for all players except the goaltender.
- No curvature of stick limitations as in the NHL, AHL, and ECHL.
- Shootouts are five players (as in the ECHL and AHL).
- All overtime periods in the regular season are between three skaters per team and the goaltender (3 on 3, compared to 4 on 4 in other leagues). Penalty rules differ during the overtime:
- During the first three minutes of overtime, in case of a penalty, the non-offending team is awarded one extra skater per penalty (up to two extra, five total).
- In the final two minutes, any minor penalty results in an automatic penalty shot.
William B. Coffey Trophy
|2004–05||Knoxville Ice Bears|
|2005–06||Knoxville Ice Bears|
|2007–08||Knoxville Ice Bears|
|2008–09||Knoxville Ice Bears|
- Giardina, A.J. (April 9, 2009). "Local investors may bring another hockey team to the coast". WLOX-TV. Retrieved April 10, 2009.
- Press release (April 30, 2009). "Biloxi to join SPHL". SPHL.com. Retrieved April 30, 2009.[dead link]
- "Coast Hockey announces new team name". The Sun Herald. June 17, 2009. Retrieved June 17, 2009.[dead link]
- Foote, Kevin (May 15, 2009). "IceGators to skate again; join the discussion". Lafayette Daily Advertiser. Retrieved May 15, 2009.[dead link]
- Blakeney, Jason (April 30, 2009). "Hockey's Back!". Pensacola News Journal. Retrieved April 30, 2009.
- Blakeney, Jason (May 9, 2009). "Commentary: New team, new name, new opportunity". Pensacola News Journal. Retrieved May 10, 2009.[dead link]
- "Hockey Returning To Augusta, GA In 2010". TheSPHL.com. February 3, 2010. Archived from the original on 6 February 2010. Retrieved February 3, 2010.
- "Mississippi RiverKings Join SPHL For 2011-2012 Season". Press release (Southern Professional Hockey League). June 13, 2011. Archived from the original on 13 June 2011. Retrieved June 13, 2011.
- Van Tuyl, Chris (13 June 2011). "Mississippi RiverKings announce change to Southern Professional Hockey League". Memphis Commercial Appeal. Archived from the original on 13 June 2011. Retrieved 13 June 2011.
- Pope, Thomas (May 16, 2013). "Two Illinois teams join SPHL; Augusta out next season". The Fayetteville Observer. Archived from the original on May 19, 2013. Retrieved May 19, 2013.
- "Florida Seals cease operations". Press release. January 5, 2007. Retrieved 16 March 2010.
- Gates, Nick (June 21, 2009). "Murray liking SPHL expansion". Knoxville News Sentinel. Retrieved 16 March 2010.
- "Renegades Officially Done". Press release. April 30, 2009. Retrieved 16 March 2010.
- "Cyclones To Cease Operations". Press release. March 24, 2009. Retrieved 16 March 2010.
- Lee, David (May 14, 2013). "Augusta RiverHawks won't play next season". The Augusta Chronicle. Archived from the original on May 19, 2013. Retrieved May 19, 2013.
- "History of the SPHL". SPHL.com. Retrieved 16 March 2010.
Media related to Southern Professional Hockey League at Wikimedia Commons