Southern Hockey League (1973–77)

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The Southern Hockey League was a low-level minor professional ice hockey league that operated from 1973 to 1977.

It was formed when the Eastern Hockey League's entire Southern Division split off and joined with two new teams to form the SHL. The Northern Division became the North American Hockey League. It positioned itself as a feeder league for the upstart World Hockey Association.

The league spent most of its existence in financial difficulty. In a harbinger of things to come, two teams--the Suncoast Suns and Macon Whoopees--folded during the season, allowing the four surviving teams to make the playoffs. A year later, an expansion team in Fayetteville, North Carolina was forced to move to Hampton, Virginia before even playing a game.

The league imploded with dramatic speed in January 1977. The teams' rosters were decimated by numerous WHA callups, and the unstable fiscal situation resulted in further roster instability. On January 3, 1977, the Richmond Wildcats folded after not being paid for most of the season, followed hours later by the Greensboro Generals. On January 7, the Tidewater Sharks shut down after missing payroll, and the Winston-Salem Polar Twins followed suit on the same day. This left the SHL with just three teams--the Baltimore Clippers, Charlotte Checkers and Hampton Gulls.

Without enough teams to carry on alone, the SHL debated whether to end the season and play a round-robin tournament to determine a champion, play an interlocking schedule with the NAHL or International Hockey League, or fold. When the NAHL and IHL rejected overtures for interlocking play, the SHL decided a round-robin tournament was not viable and suspended operations on January 31, 1977. Plans to return in 1977-78 came to nothing, and the SHL never returned.

Teams[edit]

Team name Years Seasons City
Baltimore Clippers 1976–1977 1 Baltimore, Maryland
Charlotte Checkers 1973–1977 4 Charlotte, North Carolina
Greensboro Generals 1973–1977 4 Greensboro, North Carolina
Hampton Gulls 1974–1977 3 Hampton, Virginia
Macon Whoopees 1973–1974 1 Macon, Georgia
Richmond Wildcats 1976–1977 1 Richmond, Virginia
Roanoke Valley Rebels 1973–1976 4 Roanoke, Virginia
Suncoast Suns 1973–1974 1 St. Petersburg, Florida
Tidewater Sharks 1975–1977 2 Norfolk, Virginia
Winston-Salem Polar Twins 1973–1977 4 Winston-Salem, North Carolina

Champions[edit]

Playoffs
  • 1974 - Roanoke Valley Rebels
  • 1975 - Charlotte Checkers
  • 1976 - Charlotte Checkers
  • 1977 - Folded mid-season
Regular season
  • 1974 - Roanoke Valley Rebels
  • 1975 - Charlotte Checkers
  • 1976 - Charlotte Checkers
  • 1977 - Folded mid-season

References[edit]