Southern Professional Hockey League

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Southern Professional Hockey League
Current season, competition or edition:
Current sports event 2015–16 SPHL season
Southern Professional Hockey League logo.svg
Sport Ice hockey
Founded 2004
No. of teams 9
Country United States
Most recent champion(s) Knoxville Ice Bears
Most titles Knoxville Ice Bears (4)
Official website

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 Knoxville Ice Bears are the most recent President's Cup Champions, having won their 4th title on April 18, 2015.


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,[1][2][3] Lafayette, Louisiana[4] and Pensacola, Florida.[5][6] In 2010, the league added an expansion team in Augusta, Georgia, another former long time ECHL market.[7] For the 2011–12 season, the league added 2-time Central Hockey League champions, the Mississippi RiverKings.[8][9] 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.[10]

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.[11] In that same game Erin Blair and Katie Guay became the first female officials to referee a SPHL game.[11]

The Knoxville Ice Bears are the most successful team in SPHL history, having won four William B. Coffey Trophy Championships as the regular season champions, and four Presidents Cup Championships.



Team City/Area Arena Capacity Founded Joined Head Coach
Columbus Cottonmouths Columbus, Georgia Columbus Civic Center 7,459 1996 2004 Canada Jerome Bechard
Fayetteville FireAntz Fayetteville, North Carolina Cumberland County Crown Coliseum 8,920 2002 2004 Canada Jeff Bes
Huntsville Havoc Huntsville, Alabama Von Braun Center 6,602 2004 Canada Glenn Detulleo
Knoxville Ice Bears Knoxville, Tennessee Knoxville Civic Auditorium and Coliseum 5,937 2002 2004 Canada Mike Craigen
Louisiana IceGators Lafayette, Louisiana Cajundome 11,433 1995 2009 United States Drew Omicioli
Macon Mayhem Macon, Georgia Macon Coliseum 7,182 2010* Canada Kevin Kerr
Mississippi RiverKings Southaven, Mississippi (Memphis area) Lander's Center 8,400 1992 2011 Canada Derek Landmesser
Pensacola Ice Flyers Pensacola, Florida Pensacola Bay Center 8,150 2009 Canada Rod Aldoff
Peoria Rivermen Peoria, Illinois Carver Arena 9,919 1982 2013 Canada Jean-Guy Trudel

* - Represents a franchise move.


Team City/Area Arena Capacity Founded Joined Head Coach
Roanoke Rail Yard Dawgs Roanoke, Virginia Berglund Center 8,642 2009* TBA

* - Represents a franchise move.


Peoria Rivermen (SPHL) Bloomington Thunder (SPHL) Mississippi RiverKings Macon Mayhem Augusta RiverHawks Pensacola Ice Flyers Roanoke Rail Yard Dawgs Mississippi Surge Louisiana IceGators Richmond Renegades (SPHL) Twin City Cyclones Pee Dee Cyclones Florida Seals Winston-Salem Polar Twins Macon Trax Knoxville Ice Bears Jacksonville Barracudas Huntsville Havoc Fayetteville FireAntz Columbus Cottonmouths Asheville Aces

Defunct and relocated teams[edit]

Key rule differences[edit]

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.[19]



President's Cup[edit]

2004–05 Columbus Cottonmouths
2005–06 Knoxville Ice Bears
2006–07 Fayetteville FireAntz
2007–08 Knoxville Ice Bears
2008–09 Knoxville Ice Bears
2009–10 Huntsville Havoc
2010–11 Mississippi Surge
2011–12 Columbus Cottonmouths
2012–13 Pensacola Ice Flyers
2013–14 Pensacola Ice Flyers
2014–15 Knoxville Ice Bears

William B. Coffey Trophy[edit]

Originally known as the Commissioner's Cup, the regular season trophy was renamed in honor of league co-founder Bill Coffey during the 2007–08 season.[20]

2004–05 Knoxville Ice Bears
2005–06 Knoxville Ice Bears
2006–07 Columbus Cottonmouths
2007–08 Knoxville Ice Bears
2008–09 Knoxville Ice Bears
2009–10 Mississippi Surge
2010–11 Mississippi Surge
2011–12 Augusta Riverhawks
2012–13 Fayetteville FireAntz
2013–14 Pensacola Ice Flyers
2014–15 Peoria Rivermen

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Giardina, A.J. (April 9, 2009). "Local investors may bring another hockey team to the coast". WLOX-TV. Retrieved April 10, 2009. 
  2. ^ Press release (April 30, 2009). "Biloxi to join SPHL". Archived from the original on August 2, 2009. Retrieved April 30, 2009. 
  3. ^ "Coast Hockey announces new team name". The Sun Herald. June 17, 2009. Retrieved June 17, 2009. [dead link]
  4. ^ Foote, Kevin (May 15, 2009). "IceGators to skate again; join the discussion". Lafayette Daily Advertiser. Retrieved May 15, 2009. [dead link]
  5. ^ Blakeney, Jason (April 30, 2009). "Hockey's Back!". Pensacola News Journal. Retrieved April 30, 2009. 
  6. ^ Blakeney, Jason (May 9, 2009). "Commentary: New team, new name, new opportunity". Pensacola News Journal. Retrieved May 10, 2009. [dead link]
  7. ^ "Hockey Returning To Augusta, GA In 2010". February 3, 2010. Archived from the original on 6 February 2010. Retrieved February 3, 2010. 
  8. ^ "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. 
  9. ^ 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. 
  10. ^ 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. 
  11. ^ a b "Shannon Szabados becomes first female goalie to win in Southern Professional Hockey League". Retrieved 23 November 2014. 
  12. ^ 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. 
  13. ^ "SPHL Approves RiverHawks’ Move To Macon, GA For 2015-2016 Season". The SPHL. Retrieved 25 June 2014. 
  14. ^ "Florida Seals cease operations". Press release. January 5, 2007. Retrieved 16 March 2010. 
  15. ^ Gates, Nick (June 21, 2009). "Murray liking SPHL expansion". Knoxville News Sentinel. Retrieved 16 March 2010. 
  16. ^ "Surge Hockey Operations to Suspend Indefinitely". Press release. May 2, 2014. Retrieved 4 May 2014. 
  17. ^ "Renegades Officially Done". Press release. May 2, 2014. Retrieved 16 March 2010. 
  18. ^ "Cyclones To Cease Operations". Press release. March 24, 2009. Retrieved 16 March 2010. 
  19. ^
  20. ^ "History of the SPHL". Retrieved 16 March 2010. 

External links[edit]

Media related to Southern Professional Hockey League at Wikimedia Commons