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:
- Savannah Mariners
- Savannah Steamers
- Savannah Phantoms
- Savannah Poseidions
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.