Fayetteville Marksmen

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Fayetteville Marksmen
2017–18 SPHL season
Fay Marksmen.PNG
City Fayetteville, North Carolina
League Southern Professional Hockey League
Founded 2002
Home arena Crown Coliseum
Colors Black, orange, olive, cream
Owner(s) Jeffrey M. Longo
Chuck Norris
General manager Jeffrey M. Longo
Head coach Nick Mazzolini
Media The Fayetteville Observer
Franchise history
2002–2004 Cape Fear FireAntz
2004–2017 Fayetteville FireAntz
2017–present Fayetteville Marksmen
Regular season titles 1 (2012–13)
Playoff championships 1 (2007)

The Fayetteville Marksmen are a professional minor league ice hockey team based in Fayetteville, North Carolina. They currently play in the Southern Professional Hockey League (SPHL)[1] and play their home games in the Crown Coliseum.

The team, originally known as the Cape Fear FireAntz, began play in the Atlantic Coast Hockey League in the 2002–03 season. After the league's collapse, they joined the South East Hockey League for the 2003–04 season and then what would become the SPHL in 2004 as the Fayetteville FireAntz. Since their inception, they have won the 2007 SPHL championship and made a number of playoff appearances.


ACHL and SEHL years[edit]

The team, then known as the Cape Fear FireAntz, joined the fledgling Atlantic Coast Hockey League for the 2002–03 season. Their first coach was Shawn Ulrich. After the season David Waronker announced he was withdrawing his four teams from the unstable league to form the World Hockey Association 2. The FireAntz and other remaining ACHL teams formed the South East Hockey League. They played the SEHL for the 2003–04 season, with Scott Rex serving as coach.


Fayetteville FireAntz[edit]

Primary logo, 2004–2017

In 2004, teams from the SEHL and WHA2 joined together to form the league now known as the Southern Professional Hockey League. The FireAntz joined the new league, changing their name to Fayetteville FireAntz, abandoning the reference to the nearby Cape Fear River. Derek Booth took over as head coach in 2004 and after two seasons behind the bench, he left to coach the Bloomington Prairie Thunder of the United Hockey League.

In the 2006–07 season, under the guidance of head coach John Marks, the FireAntz advanced to the finals of the league's post-season playoffs for the first time in team history. The first two games of the best-of-five finals were won by Fayetteville on the FireAntz' home ice, before the series returned to Jacksonville, Florida, where the Jacksonville Barracudas won game three of the series by a 3-2 score. The FireAntz won the fourth game of the series by a score of 5-3 to win the President's Cup. It was the first championship for the FireAntz, and Fayetteville's first professional sports championship in 51 years.[citation needed] Head coach Marks resigned after the team's championship run to take the head coach position with the Pensacola Ice Pilots of the ECHL. Shortly after Marks' resignation the FireAntz announced that former Florida Seals coach, Tommy Stewart, had been hired to coach the team for the 2007–2008 season.

Tommy Stewart was let go after the 2010–11 season and was soon replaced by Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees' assistant coach, Sean Gillam.[2] Gillam would only last partway through the season; on February 17, 2012, the FireAntz replaced him with Todd Bidner.[3]

Mark DeSantis was hired prior to the 2012–13 season. He led the team to regular season record in the league and won William B. Coffey Trophy and the SPHL's Coach of the Year. However, he left the team after only one season to become the head coach of an expansion team in his hometown, the Brampton Beast.

Greg McCauley was then hired to replace DeSantis for the 2013–14 season but resigned for personal reasons after 32 games. He was replaced by Emery Olauson, who was then kept on until the end of the 2014–15 season.[4]

On May 26, 2015, Jeff Bes was hired as the head coach prior to the 2015–16 season.[5]

Fayetteville Marksmen[edit]

On February 13, 2017, Jeffrey M. Longo was hired as the general manager.[citation needed] Later in the 2016–17 season, Longo and local entrepreneur Chuck Norris purchased the FireAntz from the seven-person ownership group, Cape Fear Pro Hockey.[6] At the end of the season, the new owners changed the name of the FireAntz to the Fayetteville Marksmen.[7] The change reflects the city of Fayetteville's relationship with the local United States Army post, Fort Bragg, as well as the native Carolina red fox.

In June 2017, head coach Jeff Bes decided to not re-sign with the team to be closer to his family.[8] He was replaced by Nick Mazzolini.


Season League Trophy
2006–07 SPHL President's Cup
2012–13 SPHL Coffey Trophy


Season League Personnel Award
2004–05 SPHL Derek Booth Coach of the Year
2004–05 SPHL Chad Collins Rookie of the Year
2005–06 SPHL Mike Clarke Defenseman of the Year
2006–07 SPHL Tim Velemirovich Rookie of the Year
2006–07 SPHL Rob Sich SPHL MVP
2006–07 SPHL John Marks Coach of the Year
2006–07 SPHL Chad Collins SPHL Playoff MVP
2012–13 SPHL Josh McQuade SPHL MVP
2012–13 SPHL Andrew Smale Defenseman of the Year
2012–13 SPHL Mark DeSantis Coach of the Year
2016–17 SPHL Sean Bonar SPHL MVP and Goaltender of the Year


  • Scott, Jon C. (2006). Hockey Night in Dixie: Minor Pro Hockey in the American South. Heritage House Publishing Company Ltd. pp. 103–133. ISBN 1-894974-21-2. 

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