HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. — The Southern Professional Hockey League released the schedule for the 2019-2020 season this morning. The 16th season of the SPHL will begin with four games on Friday, October 18, 2019, and conclude on Saturday, April 4th, 2020. As it has been with previous league schedules, the regular season will consist of 56 games per team.
The opening weekend slate of SPHL games is headlined with a Friday night matchup between last season’s President’s Cup finalists, the defending champion Huntsville Havoc visiting the Birmingham Bulls. Also on Friday night, the Evansville Thunderbolts travel to Knoxville and visit the Ice Bears, the Macon Mayhem host the Fayetteville Marksmen, and the Roanoke Rail Yards make a long-distance road trip to the Gulf Coast for a weekend set against the Pensacola Ice Flyers.
On Saturday night, all ten SPHL teams will be in action. Pensacola and Roanoke wrap up their two-game series at the Bay Center, the Bulls head north for a tilt against the Bolts, the Havoc and Mayhem meet in Macon, the Marksmen play their home opener against the Ice Bears, and the Peoria Rivermen open their schedule by hosting the Quad City Storm.
The SPHL schedule is geographically unbalanced, meaning the closer teams are located to each other, the more times they will play against one another. Last season, the league took a little heat for scheduling half of the Peoria Rivermen’s schedule between the Quad City Storm and Evansville Thunderbolts. In 2018-19 the Rivermen played the storm a whopping 16 times and faced the Thunderbolts for a dozen.
The Rivermen scheduling numbers have been trimmed a bit for 2019-20. This season the Rivermen and Storm will meet 12 times, and the Thunderbolts 11. In fact, no teams will have to face each other more than 12 times over the course of the season. The only other teams to play 12 times this season will be Fayetteville and Roanoke.
Other scheduling oddities include:
- Evansville will not host games against Fayetteville and Roanoke.
- Peoria will be the only team not to make a road trip to Pensacola.
- Macon and Pensacola will not travel to Quad City.
- Birmingham and Roanoke will play a long-distance home-and-home set in January.
The full SPHL schedule is available for download on the league’s website (thesphl.com). Look for other detailed schedule breakdowns from The Sin Bin’s SPHL writers over the coming days.