Good morning, and what a way to kickoff the Memorial Day Weekend!
We have CONFIRMATION that the Federal Hockey League is expanding to two more teams to play next season.
On the Sunday Sports Brunch on WTOB 930 AM in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, Carolina Thunderbirds GM Scott Brand teased FHL news towards the end of the first hour.
Near around 10:49 A.M., the topic finally came up, and Brand was mum, saying nothing more than “I’m going to Ohio this week”. He couldn’t confirm what for, where at (except near a large city), or who with, simply saying “if you can’t put the two together, I’m not going to explain it”.
However, as he was egged on by his co-hosts, he eventually began spilling more details. They asked why he hadn’t put a team in Virginia yet, to which he fueled speculation first by saying “maybe I do have a team in Virginia”, which should be seen more as off-cuff firing back.
Though, right after this, he did confirm “I have two teams, in the north, set to play next season”, and even followed up by saying “there are six teams in place for 2019-2020 including in the South”, later saying that a team would be ran by a “Thunderbirds Advisor”, referring what sounded like, to himself. Brand also noted that he hopes to have official announcements made in the next two weeks about the teams for this season.
With our previous research on the Mentor, Ohio (near Cleveland) market confirming they have talked to the FHL, and Brand making a trip up to “near a big city” in northern Ohio this week, it seems as though Mentor could be confirmed both as the expansion city, AND be announced this week.
What we don’t know, is the possible location of the second team. Battle Creek it seems has gone quiet, and we have always thought they might be better off waiting until 2019 due to their arena not being large enough at the moment for the FHL. Dyer is USPHL, and nothing back from the possible feasibility reports in the “Northwest Midwest” or Toronto. We’ll keep our ear to the ground.
If all six of these teams do in fact join the FHL and no teams fold (always a possibility in the FHL), then the league would be at 11 for the 2019-20 season.
It’s also important to note at this point that often times things will fall through, so while six total expansion teams over the next two years sounds nice, nothing is set in stone beyond the two for this coming season. We’ve also done a lot of searching in the south for potential FHL markets, and there aren’t a lot of towns that fit the FHL profile that also have hockey rinks. One we thought might be a possibility was Asheville, North Carolina, but that was quickly debunked as the Civic Center there no longer has ice, and a second facility wouldn’t put ice in.
Interestingly enough, Brand also informed the listening audience that the North Shore Knights, as we knew, are still a franchise despite the dropping of their roster. What we didn’t know though, is that they currently don’t have a home rink.
What this means is that the North Shore franchise is in the hunt for a lease and a home.
A lot came out during this segment, and what it means for the FHL going forward speaks of good news.
Brand also closed the segment by taking a shot at the Southern Professional Hockey League and “trolls”, mentioning that even with expansion confirmed, the trolls will still cry the league is doomed, but “a 26-year-old team in Memphis can fold [in the SPHL] and nobody bats an eye”.
We look forward to Brand’s trip to Ohio this weekend, and possibly seeing the FHL’s sixth team added before June is a week old.
So there is A LOT to breakdown in what we heard in a little 5-10 minute segment on a weekly sports show Brand was on, but here’s the nuts and bolts of it.
- Brand confirmed two teams for 2018-19, meaning if the North Shore situation gets settled, there will be seven teams next season.
- Brand is heading to Ohio “near a major city” and we could see the two teams announced in the next two weeks.
- As many as six teams could join the FHL over the next two years, which, barring no other teams folding, would put them at 11 by 2019-20.
- North Shore currently doesn’t have a rink, and the league is working to get that settled.
Phew, what a day, and what a way to start your Sunday! We’ll keep our eyes and ears out for any news regarding all of these things that Brand brought up, but for right now, it will be fun to speculate on where the next five teams to potentially join the FHL will play.