The Federal Prospects Hockey League finally rounded out its teams and expansion for the 2019-20 season today with a press conference formally introducing the league’s newest team, the Battle Creek Rumble Bees, bringing professional, and really any sort of hockey above the high school level, back to Cereal City for the first time since 2011.
The Bees will be the FPHL’s 10th team, and ends a long stretch of speculation about the team, with some wondering if they would play as a travel-only team, and others wondering if they might play in a different location due to potential rink conflicts in Battle Creek.
But at the end of the day, the initial rumors from our sources close to the FPHL proved correct, and Battle Creek was picked, along with the news that Adam Stio will serve as the team’s General Manager and Director of Hockey Operations.
Stio is a name that SPHL fans will be familiar with, spending last season with the Evansville Thunderbolts where…well the less said about how that season went for the Bolts, the better. But Stio will get another chance at running a franchise, and has hit the ground running, telling BLH that he is working 12+ hours days trying to get everything in place for the upcoming season.
In addition to the announcement of Stio running everything in the lead-up to the season on October 25, the team released its logo, website, jerseys and their first player signing, all in a brief 12-minute press conference at The Rink in Battle Creek. The first player signed is goalie Joel Eisenhower, who played two seasons of NCAA D3 hcokey at Lebanon Valley College, then played three games in the FPHL for the Mentor Ice Breakers last season, posting a 6.78 GAA and .830 Sv% in three appearances.
Here is a closer look at the team’s logo.
The Bees will start the season on home ice on October 25, opening night for the FPHL, with a pair of home games that weekend against the Danville Dashers. In total, the team will skate on home ice 27 times, while playing 30 road games, according to a schedule BLH received from league sources.
The team will play its home games at The Rink in Battle Creek, which will be one of the smaller venues in the FPHL, with around 1,000 permanent seats in the building.
Prior to the Rumble Bees, Battle Creek was home to the Battle Creek Revolution of the former All-American Hockey League from 2008 to 2011, with the team being one of the few well-run teams in that league, losing in the finals the first year, then winning the final championship in league history during the 2010-11 season, where they went 20-4. Over their three season in BC, the Revolution went 68-35-8-2 (W-L-OTL-T).
Before being officially added, Battle Creek and The Rink had been hotly rumored as a potential FPHL expansion market during last year’s off-season, and originally were scheduled to host a pair of neutral site games this past season, before a factors outside of the arena’s control resulted in them being cancelled.
The Battle Creek market has also been hotly battled for this off-season, with the start-up Interstate Hockey League putting a team there, the Battle Creek Cavalry, but questions remain about if that league will actually play, with the Calvary unexpectedly announcing a new GM for the team on Monday.
One concern for the Rumble Bees is that they face a similar challenge like the Mentor Ice Breakers did last summer. Getting a very late start to the franchise, and leaving them around 100 days to put a team, staff, marketing plan, ticket sales, and sponsorships in place. For reference, Mentor was last in the FPHL in attendance last season, bringing in an average of 374 fans per game.
With that, the FPHL’s crazy off-season of adding a whopping four teams has come to a close, we’ll have more thoughts on their off-season later on, but for now, professional hockey is back in Battle Creek Michigan.
For more information on the team, please visit their website at www.beehockey.com.