Friday Flashback: Tropical Hockey League

thlAs the National Hockey League (NHL) celebrates its centennial of hockey, it was always difficult in the early years to put a team in the Southeastern United States.  The first attempt was when the Tropical Hockey League (THL) was established in 1938.  The league played a 15-game schedule and consisted of four teams:  Coral Gables Seminoles, Miami Clippers, Miami Beach Pirates and Havana Tropicals.  All the games were played at the Metropolitan Ice Palace in Miami.   Rosters were filled with players from tryouts in Canada and most were former NHL players or former Olympians.  Ticket prices ranged from 75 cents to $2.20.

The first game was played on December 10, 1938 between the Clippers and Pirates which was claimed to be the first hockey game played in the South.  Players demonstrated the sport before the game to interested spectators.  There was also a mambo concert during the second intermission.  The Clippers won the first game, 4-3.

Leo Makarsky of the Seminoles lead the league with 16 goals.  The Seminoles won the title in the only season the league existed.

Final Standings:

  1. Coral Gables Seminoles 12-2-0
  2. Miami Clippers 7-6-0
  3. Miami Beach Pirates 5-9-0
  4. Havana Tropicals 4-11-0

The league folded after the season due to poor attendance, late start times and games that were marred by fighting.  Although there were several attempts to bring minor league hockey to Miami, it wasn’t established again until the NHL’s Florida Panthers arrived 1993.

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