SPHL fans… get your jerseys and your matching shorts out of the closet. It’s FINALLY time for some good ol’ southern-style hockey! The Southern Professional Hockey League drops the puck on its 12th season tonight with a full slate of four games. We have some great story lines tonight, and I can’t wait to get to the action. GAME ON!

SPHL Title Belt Game – Knoxville Ice Bears @ Macon Mayhem – 7:35 ET

You may be asking what the SPHL Title Belt is. It’s a running championship game which spans back to the league’s infancy. There’s only one rule: If you beat the team with the belt, you win the belt. The Ice Bears won the belt on the last day of the 2014-15 regular season with a 3-2 victory over the Louisiana IceGators, and has held the belt all summer. Tonight, in the Macon Mayhem’s inaugural game, the President’s Cup Champion Ice Bears have their first title belt defense after a seven month wait.

If the Ice Bears defend their belt with a victory, then their next defense will be on Saturday when the Columbus Cottonmouths travel to Tennessee for the Bears’ banner raising. Should the Mayhem pry the belt away tonight, the Mississippi RiverKings will be their first title defense.

There will be a distinct new-car smell to tonight’s game. The new-look Ice Bears will face the brand-new Mayhem in the first game of the Bears’ title defense. Both teams went undefeated in the exhibition season. The Ice Bears defeated the RiverKings with a 5-4 overtime victory. The Mayhem defeated Fayetteville, 3-1, and burned out the goal light against Columbus, 7-1.

2014-15 Regular Season Records
Knoxville: 31-22-3 (65 pts.)
Macon: Did not play.

Huntsville Havoc @ Columbus Cottonmouths – 7:35 ET

Tonight has to be the happiest night of Havoc coach Glenn Detullo’s year. The Havoc finally get a chance to put their miserable 11-win 2014-15 campaign behind them, and they get a chance to exact a little revenge against a team that they went 2-7 against last season.

2014-15 Regular Season Records
Huntsville: 11-38-7 (29 pts.)
Columbus: 33-19-4 (70 pts.)

2014-15 Head-to-Head:
Huntsville: 2-7-0
Columbus: 7-2-0

Pensacola Ice Flyers @ Peoria Rivermen   – 7:05 CT

The two teams with the best regular-season records in the last two seasons face-off tonight at the Peoria Civic Center. Last season’s scoring champion Adam Pawlick and the Ice Flyers take the long trip north to play all-SPHL goaltender Kyle Rank and the Rivermen.

2014-15 Regular Season Records
Peoria: 36-17-3 (75 pts.)
Pensacola: 32-18-6 (68 pts.)

2014-15 Head-to-Head
Peoria: 2-2-1
Pensacola: 3-0-2

Louisiana IceGators @ Mississippi RiverKings – 7:05 CT

This game has the best storyline of opening night. Former RiverKings goaltender Adam Courchaine, traded to Louisiana for winger Benji Rubin, returns to Landers Center with his IceGators to face his former platoon-mate Peter Di Salvo. This has the potential to be a great early season goalie battle.

2014-15 Regular Season Records
Louisiana: 27-21-8 (62 pts.)
Mississippi: 33-21-2 (68 pts.)

2014-15 Head-to-Head
Louisiana: 4-6-1
Mississippi: 7-4-0

Tomorrow’s Games

Huntsville @ Fayetteville – 7:05 ET
Mississippi @ Macon – 7:30 ET
Columbus @ Knoxville – 7:35 ET
Peoria @ Pensacola – 7:05 CT

It’s been a long October wait for SPHL fans, but look at the bright side – at least we’re not the Federal League. Those poor FHL fans still have to wait two more weeks until their opening night. Bless their hearts.

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