Southern Professional Hockey League

The Southern Professional Hockey League (SPHL) is a professional ice hockey league based in Huntersville, North Carolina, with teams located primarily in the southeastern United States as well as Illinois and Indiana in the midwestern United States.

Southern Professional Hockey League
Current season, competition or edition:
2019–20 SPHL season
SportIce hockey
CommissionerDoug Price[1]
No. of teams10
CountryUnited States
Most recent
Huntsville Havoc
Most titlesKnoxville Ice Bears (4)

The Huntsville Havoc are the most recent President's Cup champions.


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,[2][3][4] Lafayette, Louisiana[5] and Pensacola, Florida.[6][7] In 2010, the league added an expansion team in Augusta, Georgia, another former long time ECHL market.[8] For the 2011–12 season, the league added two-time Central Hockey League champions, the Mississippi RiverKings.[9][10] For the 2013–14 season, the league lost the Augusta RiverHawks but also expanded northward with two franchises in Illinois: the Bloomington Thunder, a team also moving from the CHL, where they were known as the Bloomington Blaze, and the Peoria Rivermen, who were replacing an American Hockey League team of the same name in their market.[11] In 2015, the Augusta franchise returned and relocated to Macon, Georgia as the Macon Mayhem.

In November 2014, Shannon Szabados became the first female goaltender to win an SPHL game, when the Columbus Cottonmouths defeated the Fayetteville FireAntz 5–4 in overtime.[12] In that same game Erin Blair and Katie Guay became the first female officials to referee an SPHL game.[12]

At the end of the 2015–16 season, the Louisiana IceGators announced a one-year leave of absence for renovations to their arena but never returned. The IceGators' franchise was sold and reactivated as the Quad City Storm in 2018. the In 2016, the dormant Mississippi Surge franchise was relocated to Southwest Virginia to become the Roanoke Rail Yard Dawgs. One of the inaugural SPHL teams, the Columbus Cottonmouths, suspended operations in 2017 after failing to find a buyer while an expansion team called the Birmingham Bulls were accepted into the league as the tenth team. Following the 2017–18 season, the Mississippi RiverKings suspended operations while the league searched for new owners.[13] With the acceptance of the Quad City Storm, the league was able to remain at ten teams for the 2018–19 season.

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 President's Cup championships.



Team City Arena Capacity Founded Joined Head Coach
Birmingham Bulls[14][15] Pelham, Alabama Pelham Civic Center 3,500 2017 Jamey Hicks
Evansville Thunderbolts Evansville, Indiana Ford Center 9,000 2016 Jeff Bes
Fayetteville Marksmen Fayetteville, North Carolina Crown Coliseum 8,920 2002 2004 Jesse Kallechy
Huntsville Havoc Huntsville, Alabama Von Braun Center 6,037 2004 Glenn Detulleo
Knoxville Ice Bears Knoxville, Tennessee Knoxville Civic Coliseum 5,937 2002 2004 Jeff Carr
Macon Mayhem Macon, Georgia Macon Coliseum 7,182 2010[lower-alpha 1] Leo Thomas
Pensacola Ice Flyers Pensacola, Florida Pensacola Bay Center 8,150 2009 Rod Aldoff
Peoria Rivermen Peoria, Illinois Carver Arena 9,919 2013 Jean-Guy Trudel
Quad City Storm Moline, Illinois TaxSlayer Center 9,200 2009[lower-alpha 1] Dave Pszenyczny
Roanoke Rail Yard Dawgs Roanoke, Virginia Berglund Center 8,672 2009[lower-alpha 1] Dan Bremner
  1. Relocated franchise


Defunct and relocated teams

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 eighteen regular players to a game. Two players dressed for the game will be goaltenders.
  • 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. After five different players have made an attempt, teams may reuse anyone including those who have previously attempted in later rounds, even using the same player in consecutive rounds if desired.


President's Cup

Awarded to the league playoff champion.

Season Winner Runner Up
2004–05Columbus CottonmouthsMacon Trax
2005–06Knoxville Ice BearsOrlando Seals
2006–07Fayetteville FireAntzJacksonville Barracudas
2007–08Knoxville Ice BearsJacksonville Barracudas
2008–09Knoxville Ice BearsFayetteville FireAntz
2009–10Huntsville HavocMississippi Surge
2010–11Mississippi SurgeAugusta Riverhawks
2011–12Columbus CottonmouthsPensacola Ice Flyers
2012–13Pensacola Ice FlyersHuntsville Havoc
2013–14Pensacola Ice FlyersColumbus Cottonmouths
2014–15Knoxville Ice BearsMississippi RiverKings
2015–16Pensacola Ice FlyersPeoria Rivermen
2016–17Macon MayhemPeoria Rivermen
2017–18Huntsville HavocPeoria Rivermen
2018–19Huntsville HavocBirmingham Bulls
Team Titles
Knoxville Ice Bears4
Huntsville Havoc3
Pensacola Ice Flyers3
Columbus Cottonmouths2
Fayetteville FireAntz1
Macon Mayhem1
Mississippi Surge1

William B. Coffey Trophy

Originally known as the Commissioner's Cup, the regular season championship trophy was renamed in honor of league co-founder Bill Coffey during the 2007–08 season.[25]

Season Winner
2004–05Knoxville Ice Bears
2005–06Knoxville Ice Bears
2006–07Columbus Cottonmouths
2007–08Knoxville Ice Bears
2008–09Knoxville Ice Bears
2009–10Mississippi Surge
2010–11Mississippi Surge
2011–12Augusta RiverHawks
2012–13Fayetteville FireAntz
2013–14Pensacola Ice Flyers
2014–15Peoria Rivermen
2015–16Peoria Rivermen
2016–17Macon Mayhem
2017–18Peoria Rivermen
2018–19Peoria Rivermen
Team Titles
Knoxville Ice Bears4
Peoria Rivermen4
Mississippi Surge2
Augusta RiverHawks1
Columbus Cottonmouths1
Fayetteville FireAntz1
Macon Mayhem1
Pensacola Ice Flyers1

See also


  1. "Doug Price Appointed Commissioner of the Southern Professional Hockey League". January 17, 2019.
  2. Giardina, A.J. (April 9, 2009). "Local investors may bring another hockey team to the coast". WLOX-TV. Archived from the original on 2009-04-12. Retrieved April 10, 2009.
  3. Press release (April 30, 2009). "Biloxi to join SPHL". Archived from the original on August 2, 2009. Retrieved April 30, 2009.
  4. "Coast Hockey announces new team name". The Sun Herald. June 17, 2009. Retrieved June 17, 2009.
  5. Foote, Kevin (May 15, 2009). "IceGators to skate again; join the discussion". Lafayette Daily Advertiser. Archived from the original on May 19, 2009. Retrieved May 15, 2009.
  6. Blakeney, Jason (April 30, 2009). "Hockey's Back!". Pensacola News Journal. Archived from the original on May 3, 2009. Retrieved April 30, 2009.
  7. Blakeney, Jason (May 9, 2009). "Commentary: New team, new name, new opportunity". Pensacola News Journal. Archived from the original on May 14, 2009. Retrieved May 10, 2009.
  8. "Hockey Returning To Augusta, GA In 2010". February 3, 2010. Archived from the original on 6 February 2010. Retrieved February 3, 2010.
  9. "Mississippi RiverKings Join SPHL For 2011–2012 Season". Press release. Southern Professional Hockey League. June 13, 2011. Archived from the original on 9 October 2012. Retrieved June 13, 2011.
  10. Van Tuyl, Chris (13 June 2011). "Mississippi RiverKings announce change to Southern Professional Hockey League". Memphis Commercial Appeal. Archived from the original on 17 October 2012. Retrieved 13 June 2011.
  11. Pope, Thomas (May 16, 2013). "Two Illinois teams join SPHL; Augusta out next season". The Fayetteville Observer. Archived from the original on July 28, 2013. Retrieved May 19, 2013.
  12. "Shannon Szabados becomes first female goalie to win in Southern Professional Hockey League". Retrieved 23 November 2014.
  13. "Mississippi Riverkings suspend operations for 2018-19 season, will seek new ownership". Commercial Appeal. May 24, 2018.
  14. "Pelham council approves ice arena lease for professional hockey team". WBRC. Retrieved February 21, 2017.
  15. Walsh, Lauren. "Former Birmingham Bulls owner sets sights on Pelham for professional hockey team". ABC 33/40. Retrieved February 21, 2017.
  16. Lee, David (May 14, 2013). "Augusta RiverHawks won't play next season". The Augusta Chronicle. Archived from the original on January 8, 2016. Retrieved May 19, 2013.
  17. "SPHL Approves RiverHawks' Move To Macon, GA For 2015–2016 Season". The SPHL. Retrieved 25 June 2014.
  18. "Cottonmouths to suspend operations for next season". Columbus Ledger-Enquirer. May 3, 2017.
  19. "Florida Seals cease operations". Press release. January 5, 2007. Retrieved 16 March 2010.
  20. Gates, Nick (June 21, 2009). "Murray liking SPHL expansion". Knoxville News Sentinel. Retrieved 16 March 2010.
  21. "SPHL adding Quad City for 2018-2019 season". SPHL. May 23, 2018.
  22. "Surge Hockey Operations to Suspend Indefinitely". Press release. May 2, 2014. Retrieved 4 May 2014.
  23. "Renegades Officially Done". Press release. May 2, 2014. Retrieved 16 March 2010.
  24. "Cyclones To Cease Operations". Press release. March 24, 2009. Retrieved 16 March 2010.
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