Southern Professional Hockey League
|Current season, competition or edition:
2015–16 SPHL season
|No. of teams||9|
|Most recent champion(s)||Knoxville Ice Bears
|Most titles||Knoxville Ice Bears (4)|
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 with 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 moving from the CHL, where they were known as the Bloomington Blaze, and the Peoria Rivermen, who are replacing an American Hockey League team of the same name in their market.
In November 2014, Shannon Szabados became the first female goaltender to win a SPHL game when the Columbus Cottonmouths defeated the Fayetteville FireAntz 5-4 in overtime. In that same game Erin Blair and Katie Guay became the first female officials to referee a SPHL game.
|Columbus Cottonmouths||Columbus, Georgia||Columbus Civic Center||7,459||1996||2004||Jerome Bechard|
|Fayetteville FireAntz||Fayetteville, North Carolina||Cumberland County Crown Coliseum||8,920||2002||2004||Jeff Bes|
|Huntsville Havoc||Huntsville, Alabama||Von Braun Center||6,602||2004||Glenn Detulleo|
|Knoxville Ice Bears||Knoxville, Tennessee||Knoxville Civic Auditorium and Coliseum||5,937||2002||2004||Mike Craigen|
|Louisiana IceGators||Lafayette, Louisiana||Cajundome||11,433||1995||2009||Drew Omicioli|
|Macon Mayhem||Macon, Georgia||Macon Coliseum||7,182||2010*||Kevin Kerr|
|Mississippi RiverKings||Southaven, Mississippi (Memphis area)||Lander's Center||8,400||1992||2011||Derek Landmesser|
|Pensacola Ice Flyers||Pensacola, Florida||Pensacola Bay Center||8,150||2009||Rod Aldoff|
|Peoria Rivermen||Peoria, Illinois||Carver Arena||9,919||1982||2013||Jean-Guy Trudel|
* - Represents a franchise move.
|Roanoke Rail Yard Dawgs||Roanoke, Virginia||Berglund Center||8,642||2009*||TBA|
* - Represents a franchise move.
Defunct and relocated teams
- Asheville Aces (2004–05)
- Augusta RiverHawks (2010–13; moved to Macon, Georgia as the Mayhem for the 2015-16 season)
- Bloomington Thunder (2013–14; membership terminated to make way for a team in the United States Hockey League)
- Florida Seals (2005–07; membership terminated in the middle of the 2006–07 SPHL season)
- Jacksonville Barracudas (2004–08; suspended for the 2008–09 season and dissolved)
- Macon Trax (2004–05)
- Mississippi Surge (2009–14; moved to Roanoke, Virginia as the Rail Yard Dawgs for the 2016-17 season)
- 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)
Key rule differences
As per minor leagues, there are some rule differences between the SPHL and the NHL (and even the ECHL and the AHL, the two 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).
- 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
- 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. Archived from the original on August 2, 2009. Retrieved April 30, 2009.
- "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.
- "Shannon Szabados becomes first female goalie to win in Southern Professional Hockey League". NHL.com. Retrieved 23 November 2014.
- 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.
- "SPHL Approves RiverHawks’ Move To Macon, GA For 2015-2016 Season". The SPHL. Retrieved 25 June 2014.
- "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.
- "Surge Hockey Operations to Suspend Indefinitely". Press release. May 2, 2014. Retrieved 4 May 2014.
- "Renegades Officially Done". Press release. May 2, 2014. Retrieved 16 March 2010.
- "Cyclones To Cease Operations". Press release. March 24, 2009. Retrieved 16 March 2010.
- "History of the SPHL". SPHL.com. Retrieved 16 March 2010.
Media related to Southern Professional Hockey League at Wikimedia Commons