With the eyes of the Federal Prospects Hockey League on the current saga in Danville, in a Tuesday night stunner, sources revealed to Bus League Hockey that the Battle Creek Rumble Bees franchise, which has been in limbo since last week, will reportedly relocate to Berlin, New Hampshire and the Notre Dame Arena, rather than outright fold.
Berlin is no stranger to the FPHL brand of hockey, having previously hosted River Drivers for two seasons, and were rumored to get the Berlin Blizzard last year, following the ill-fated Berlin BlackJacks of LNAH in November of 2018, who folded after just a handful of games. The city and the Notre Dame Arena have been without a major hockey tenant since.
“Gosh dammit, I don’t care how many tries it takes, we’re going to make Berlin a successful Fed market,” FPHL Commissioner Don Kirnan said. “We’ll show all those people who keep calling us the Fools Hockey League. When people think FPHL, they’re going to think Berlin. As they always say in minor league hockey, ‘fourth time is the charm.'”
According to those close to the deal, current Rumble Bees coach/general manager Adam Stio will be retained for the same positions in Berlin. The team, in an effort to save money and grow the Rumble Bees brand and logo, will be called the Berlin Rumble Bees.
“After one season of playing in an old arena with bleachers on one side of the rink and about 350 fans in them, we should feel right at home in Berlin,” Stio said of the move. “What’s embarassing though, we didn’t know we were keeping the name, colors, and jerseys, so anybody who bought our stuff during the equipment sell-off last week, we’re going to need those back, and for you to cover the shipping. No refunds.”
As noted above, Berlin was previously home to the Berlin River Drivers of the Federal Hockey League for two seasons, lasting from 2015 to 2017. The River Drivers averaging 629 fans a night in their final season, sixth in the then 7-team FHL, and 600 fans a night in their inaugural season, fifth in the 6-team FHL that year, per the FHL site’s attendance numbers.
Following the folding of the River Drivers, the LNAH and the Berlin BlackJacks came to town, and lasted all of 10 games before being taken over by the league, and were reportedly averaging just over 300 fans per game despite it being “better hockey and a better league.”
With the Bees on the move, the FPHL currently sits at 11 teams, with the presumed addition of Bloomington still on the way, but the situation Danville likely to change at any moment. It also throws a big wrench in the Fed’s current divisional alignment, with Berlin likely to join the East, giving that division six teams, and leaving the West with just four and Danville still a question.
“I have no idea what divisions will be next season,” Kirnan added. “We’ll probably go North-South and just have Carolina and Columbus play a Best-of-57 for the South, and then however many teams there are in the North, we can have an actual season and playoff to see who plays the South winner for the championship.”
Regardless, the move to Berlin is a bold move for the Fed, and it’s great to see such a hockey hot bed get yet another shot at a team. A website and ticket information will be available soon.
“After one win last year, we’re shooting for the moon,” Stio concluded. “We’re talking three, four, maybe even five wins. Something this city will be proud of.”