I just read today that minor league hockey is coming to Savannah, Georgia in 2022. That’s a big deal for the coastal city. For years, Savannah has been overlooked or bypassed by minor leagues mostly due to the lack of facilities. I always thought hockey or arena football would be a good fit. It appears that all this has changed now that the construction of the new Savannah Arena is scheduled to be completed in the winter of 2022.
The new hockey team will play in the ECHL which is one of the largest minor leagues. Savannah’s ECHL hockey team will be owned by Roo Hockey, LLC, with the organization being established immediately and a permanent business office planned to open in the city in July, according to Roo Hockey CEO Andy Kaufmann.
It isn’t that Savannah hasn’t had minor league teams in the city but the lack of facilities has hindered professional sports teams in the area. Here’s a few that have tried:
The Spirits were a team in the Continental Basketball Association (CBA) which played 1986-1988 at the Savannah Civic Center. The franchise moved to Savannah from Detroit. They were coached by Charley Rosen. The Spirits never got a good following and moved to Tulsa, Oklahoma after the 1987-1988 season.
Very few knew about this team in the short-lived Eastern Indoor Soccer League (EISL) which lasted two seasons (1997-1998). They were going to come back to play in 1999 but the league folded due to low attendance and a lack of working agreement with a higher level league.
Savannah Braves/Cardinals/Sand Gnats
Savannah has mostly been known for their minor league baseball teams through the years which have called Historic Grayson Stadium home. The Savannah Braves were the most famous team but the franchise moved to Greenville, South Carolina in 1984.
The Banannas have been pretty successful since they started playing in the Coastal Plain League, a collegiate summer league, in 2016. They won the league championship in their first season.
Hockey in Savannah isn’t a foreign concept. Since 1999, Savannah has hosted the Savannah Hockey Classic which is an annual tournament featuring mostly club hockey teams from Southeastern colleges such as the University of Georgia, Georgia Tech, Florida State and the University of Florida. The University of Georgia Ice Dawgs have won the Savannah Classic nine times.
Next on the agenda for the new Savannah hockey team is a name. Details about a name-the-team-contest will be coming. For more information about Savannah’s pro hockey team, go to www.savannahprohockey.com.
Here are some ideas I came up with for the new team:
Whatever the name will be, they will have some natural rivalries against EHCL teams Atlanta Gladiators, the South Carolina Stingrays, the Greenville Swamp Rabbits, and the Jacksonville Icemen.
Armenia Eagles Celebrate PRO Chess League Championship
PRO Chess League:After two draws that kept extending a playoff, Zaven Adriasyan won in game three of his sudden-death blitz match with Wang Yue to give the Armenia Eagles the championship in the PRO Chess League. The Eagles finished the regular season winning the Eastern Division with a record of 6.5-2.5. They were the only #1 seed to advance to California, meaning they were both the Eastern Division champions in the regular season, and won the divisional bracket in the postseason. The opening round of the playoffs saw them cruise over the Estonia Horses 10.5-5.5, while in the quarterfinals they used their top-seeded draw odds to get by the Mumbai Movers after an 8-8 score.
AMERICAN ULTIMATE DISC LEAGUE (AUDL): The Raleigh Flyers (3-1) continued their dominance over the Nashville Nightwatch (0-2) as they took advantage of crucial turnovers by the Nightwatch in the third quarter to get some separation for a 31-26 win in Nashville. Jacob Fairfax went up for an incredible goal in between Nashville defenders as time expired before halftime to give the Flyers some momentum. This was Raleigh’s 10th straight win over Nashville. In the earlier women’s game, the Raleigh Radiance won in sudden death overtime over the Nashville Nightshade 15-14.
PBA BOWLING LEAGUE: The Silver Lake Atom Splitters dominated their semifinal and final matches Sunday to win the Professional Bowlers Association’s Elias Cup for the third time in five years at Bayside Bowl in Portland. The team of Jesper Svensson, Dick Allen, A.J. Johnson, Tom Daugherty and Chris Barnes won all eight games during the two-day tournament, capped by four straight victories in the finals against the Philadelphia Hitmen.
SOUTHERN PROFESSIONAL HOCKEY LEAGUE (SPHL): Splitting the first two games in the SPHL semifinals, the Huntsville Havoc and Macon Mayhem needed overtime in game three to determine which team’s season would come to an end and which would move on to the championship series. Both clubs were evenly matched, but the Havoc scored late in the third to send it to the extra frame and Peter Sikalis notched his first goal of the playoffs in overtime to send Huntsville on the SPHL finals.
ARENA FOOTBALL LEAGUE (AFL): The Philadelphia Soul (2-0) unveiled their ArenaBowl championship banner in their home opener and defeated the Baltimore Brigade (1-1) in their home opener 54-49. With only seconds left in the game, Dan Raudabaugh found Darius Reynolds in the end zone for the win.
AMERICAN HOCKEY LEAGUE (AHL): Matthew Highmore, Chris DiDomenico and Lance Bouma contributed three unanswered tallies to break a 2-2 deadlock in the second period and guide the Rockford IceHogs to a 5-2 victory over the Chicago Wolves in front of a crowd of 5,418 at the BMO Harris Bank Center Sunday night. With their win, the IceHogs now hold a 2-0 lead in their first-round Calder Cup playoff series against the Wolves, and are just one win shy of advancing to the second round. In other series, Lehigh Valley 1, Providence 1; Charlotte 2, Wilkes Barre/Scranton 0; Toronto 2, Utica 0; Syracuse 2, Rochester 0; Grand Rapids 1, Manitoba 1; Tucson 1, San Jose 1; Texas 2, Ontario 1.
ECHL: The Ft. Wayne Komets defeated the Cincinnati Cyclones 4-2 at Cincinnati Sunday in game 5 of the Central division semifinals and eliminated Cincinnati 4 games to 1 in the best-of-seven first-round series to advance to round 2 against the Toledo Walleye. The Komets rallied from a 2-1 deficit with three unanswered goals late in the third period from Jason Binkley, Phelix Martineau and Cold Sol in a span of 6:11 to take the win and advance to the second round series for the fifth straight season. Fort Wayne Goaltender Michael Houser earned the win making 16 saves on 18 shots.
FEDERAL HOCKEY LEAGUE (FHL): The battle for the Commissioners Cup got interesting on Saturday night as the Watertown Wolves pulled of a 3-2 win in Port Huron to even the best-of-five series at 1-1. Anton Lennartsson scored at 12:40 of the third period on a Wolves power play to break a 2-2 tie. The goal stood up as the game winner, disappointing 1,279 Prowlers fans in attendance at McMorran Place Arena.
NORTH AMERICAN HOCKEY LEAGUE (NAHL): For the sixth time in eight seasons, the Austin Bruins will appear in the Central Division Finals. After defeating the Minnesota Wilderness 5-3 on Saturday night at Northwoods Credit Union Arena in Cloquet, they took the Semifinal series, three games to one and will play either the Aberdeen Wings or Minot Minotauros next weekend for the right to represent the Central Division at the Robertson Cup Tournament.
UNITED STATES HOCKEY LEAGUE (USHL): The Clark Cup is down to the final four teams as they square off in the conference semifinals. In the Eastern Conference Semifinals: Team USA and Chicago Steel are tied at 1-1. Youngstown leads Dubuque 2-0. In the West: Waterloo and Lincoln are tied 1-1. Omaha and Fargo are tied 1-1.
WESTERN HOCKEY LEAGUE (WHL): A night after a close Game One victory, the Swift Current Broncos and Lethbridge Hurricanes got right back at it for Game Two and it was a close contest. Former Lethbridge Hurricane and now Swift Current Bronco forward Giorgio Estephan had a night to remember as he potted his second career WHL postseason hat trick in the most dramatic of ways, 4-3 in overtime.
AMERICAN ARENA LEAGUE (AAL): Jacques Alston scored touchdowns the first four times he touched the ball to stake the Heroes to a four-touchdown lead and set the tone for an 89-20 American Arena League rout of the Upstate Dragons at the Crown Coliseum. Darting and spinning his way through the Upstate defense, Alston had touchdown runs of 13, 28 and 16 yards in the opening quarter along with a 35-yard scoring reception. He added a fifth touchdown run from five yards out in the fourth quarter to cap a six carry, 68-yard rushing effort.
NATIONAL ARENA LEAGUE (NAL): The Carolina Cobras (2-1) opened their second home game of the season with a victory over the Massachusetts Pirates (2-1) 55-47. This win leaves the NAL with one undefeated team, which is the Columbus Lions (2-0).
INDOOR FOOTBALL LEAGUE (IFL): The Sioux Falls Storm faced the Cedar Rapids Titans on Saturday, April 21 at the Denny Sanford Premier Center during a week nine contest. The Storm came out on top 65-48 against rival Titans.
CHAMPIONS INDOOR FOOTBALL (CIF): The Omaha Beef got back to their winning ways with an important win against the Kansas City Phantoms 47-41. Anthony Iannotti led the offense with six total touchdowns (3-running and 3-passing) and Chris Perry added two interceptions returning one for a touchdown for the defense.
NATIONAL LACROSSE LEAGUE (NLL): The Calgary Roughnecks swept the series with the Vancouver Stealth (4-0) with a 26-11 victory over the Stealth and tied a franchise record for most goals for in a single game.
COASTAL PLAIN LEAGUE (CPL): The Lexington County (SC) Blowfish of the summer-collegiate CPL will be renamed the Lexington County Pancakes when the team plays the league’s newest team called the Macon (GA) Bacon during the 2018 season.