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 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