EVANSVILLE, Ind. — The lone coaching vacancy for the 2019-2020 season in the Southern Professional Hockey League has been filled by a familiar face. Jeff Bes was named as the third head coach in Evansville Thunderbolts history in a press conference at the Ford Center this morning. Bes succeeds Ian Moran, who resigned after a tumultuous 12-38-6 season.
The hiring of Bes by Evansville makes him the first person in league history to coach four different SPHL teams. In 2011, Bes broke into the SPHL coaching ranks with the now-defunct (Biloxi) Mississippi Surge for three seasons. After the folding of the Surge following the 2013-14 season, Bes spent the 2015-16 and 2016-17 seasons with the Fayetteville FireAntz before heading to the Pensacola Ice Flyers for the 2017-18 season.
Bes has had some success over the regular season throughout his career, compiling a career 175-129-32 record over six seasons and none of his teams have missed the postseason.
Finding similar success in the postseason, however, has eluded Bes over the course of his coaching career. Other than a semifinal run with the Fayetteville FireAntz in the 2015-16 season, none of Bes’ teams have made it out of the first round. Bes has a 1-6 series record over six postseason appearances with an overall record of 2-13.
The hiring of Bes comes at a good time of the offseason for the Thunderbolts. On June 1st, the summer signing season opens. Teams around the league can sign players from their protected lists, rookies, as well as players which teams did not have previous rights from the past season. It will be interesting to see is Bes signs protected players from last season, or decides to blow up the roster altogether and rebuild the team with minimal returnees from the previous squad. If history is a guide, look for plenty of new faces on the Thunderbolts roster.
Jeff Bes’ Career Regular Season Records
2011-12 – Mississippi – 29-23-3 (5th)
2012-13 – Mississippi – 25-23-8 (6th)
2013-14 – Mississippi – 22-28-6 (8th)
2015-16 – Fayetteville – 30-21-5 (4th)
2016-17 – Fayetteville – 36-13-6 (2nd)
2017-18 – Pensacola – 33-16-7 (3rd)