LAFAYETTE, LA – HAPPY OCTOBER!!! In a little over a week from today, the Southern Professional Hockey League will finally swing into action with the opening of training camps around the league. We’re just 17 days before the start of the 13th SPHL season, and the second season of in-depth coverage on The Sin Bin. Look for our team-by-team season previews coming up in just two short weeks!
We’ve had a ton of big-name signings over the past couple of weeks in the league, and we’ll cover them in-depth in today’s Inside the SPHL. We’ve seen the Peoria Rivermen sign former Columbus Cottonmouths goaltender (and the league’s most popular player) Shannon Szabados, the Knoxville Ice Bears signed veterans Jason Price and Berkley Scott – with hints of more big-name signings to come, the expansion Evansville Thunderbolts add seven players to their training camp roster, three-time SPHL All-Star defenseman Stuart Stefan has been named a player/assistant coach with the Huntsville Havoc, and former Renegade/Havoc/IceGators/RiverHawks/Thunder/Rivermen/Ice Bears enforcer Dennis Sicard makes the Macon Mayhem his eighth SPHL team. Finally, the Pensacola Ice Flyers and Huntsville Havoc unveiled their new jerseys this afternoon.
Shannon Szabados Signs With Peoria
One of the biggest off-season mysteries has finally been solved. Shannon Szabados, after a summer of speculation, has finally signed with the team which has been her nemesis: the Peoria Rivermen. Szabados, a career 0-4-0 with a 5.51 GAA and .882 SV% against Peoria, joins the team which should give her the best opportunity to succeed in the two-time Olympic gold medalist’s career. Szabados will compete for a goalie job with rookie netminders Troy Passingham (Ryerson (ON) University) and Tyler Green (Wisconsin-Eau Claire) when training camp opens next week.
Stuart Stefan Named Havoc Player/Assistant Coach
During our podcast interview with Huntsville Havoc Head Coach Glenn Detulleo, the bench boss hinted at giving team captain and three-time SPHL All-Star defenseman Stuart Stefan coaching responsibilities, saying “He’ll be a coach at some point. He’s a highly motivated, really smart guy with great attention to detail.” Today, the Havoc made it official, naming Stefan a Player/Assistant Coach for the 2016-17 season Described by Detulleo as “A true pro who brings it every day,” Stefan has played in 251 consecutive regular season games – last missing a game on January 7th, 2012.
Knoxville Ice Bears Sign Veterans Price, Scott
Unlike last season, Knoxville Ice Bears Head Coach Mike Craigen looks to begin his 2016-17 campaign in mid-season form. Going into this weekend, Craigen already had ten players from last season’s squad which went 20-6-3 over the last half of the 2015-16 season. The Ice Bears then announced the return of team captain Jason Price. Price, the team’s most experienced player with 456 SPHL games played, signed on for his 10th SPHL season – Price’s fourth with the Ice Bears – late last week.
Price is joined by the return of forward Berkley Scott. Scott, entering his sixth pro season, was traded to the Fayetteville FireAntz last summer for the 46-point scoring Trever Hertz. Scott was left unprotected by the FireAntz after suffering a horrific lower-body injury last season against the Columbus Cottonmouths. Craigen envisions a full recovery for the 6’3″ forward, saying “He’s hell-bent n being back to 100 percent or better.” Rumor has it the Ice Bears will sign another pair of veteran players. We’ll break down these signings on The Sin Bin when they materialize.
Macon Mayhem Sign Denny Sicard
The victim of the Ice Bears’ veteran signings was the hard-nosed, high-energy forward Dennis Sicard. Sicard, with 420 professional games played going into his tenth season, was given his release by the Ice Bears to seek opportunities with other teams. The Macon Mayhem took advantage of the situation and signed the perennial fan favorite. Sicard, the SPHL’s all-time leader in penalty minutes, is described by Mayhem Head Coach Kevin Kerr as “A hard-nosed player who brings intensity every shift, which is the type of culture we are building for our team,” said Kerr. “(Sicard) is the type of player that our fans will love to watch and the city of Macon will fall in love with.” Sicard thrived with the Ice Bears last season, putting up his best offensive numbers (12G/16A) since the 2009-10 season.
Seven Players Added to Thunderbolts Roster
The expansion Evansville Thunderbolts had a busy weekend, announcing the signings of seven players to their inaugural training camp. The Bolts signed FHL assist leader John Scorcia, who racked up 70 assists with 26 goals for the Danbury Titans last season. Scorcia’s joined by fellow FHL’er and former Evansville IceMen defenseman Myles McCauley, who scored 45 points (18G/27A) between Danville and Dayton last season. Also signed was former Louisiana IceGator blueliner Dan Cornell, forward Thomas Stuart-Dant from NIHL Cardiff (Wales), and collegians Alex Taulien (D3 Elmira), Mike Radisa (D3 SUNY-Plattsburgh), & Tyler Beasley (D3 Nichols).
Ice Flyers, Havoc Unveil 2016-17 Jerseys
Finally, the Pensacola Ice Flyers and Huntsville Havoc – in the league-wide transition from Easton to Bauer as league suppliers – displayed their new sweaters for the first time on Monday afternoon. The Ice Flyers will wear three different jerseys for the 2016-17 season: A dark blue home uniform, a road white, and a special powder blue jersey. The Havoc will wear a black home sweater and a gray road jersey.
— Pensacola Ice Flyers (@PcolaIceFlyers) October 3, 2016
The 2016-17 Havoc Jerseys are here!
— Huntsville Havoc (@HuntsvilleHavoc) October 3, 2016
Finally, we’re done for this edition of Inside The SPHL! Keep following The Sin Bin on Facebook at facebook.com/SinBinSPHL and on Twitter at @SinBinSPHL, @SPHLGameNight, @SinBinSPHLBolts, and @SinBinSnakes for all of the action leading up to opening night and throughout the 2016-17 SPHL season!