The Evansville Thunderbolts announced today that they will opt-out of the 2020-2021 season.
The Southern Professional Hockey League (SPHL) today announced that the 2020-2021 season will only be comprised of five teams and feature a 42-game regular-season schedule.
The SPHL is set to drop the puck for the 2020-2021 regular season on Saturday, December 26 with the Birmingham Bulls, Huntsville Havoc, Knoxville Ice Bears, Macon Mayhem and Pensacola Ice Flyers set to play the abbreviated schedule.
“This has been one of the most difficult decisions I have ever had to make. My heart like the rest of the teams that have opted out this season wants us to play but my head tells me it is best to opt out and spend our time and effort towards the upcoming 2021-2022 season,” said Scott Schoenike, President of the Evansville Thunderbolts. “It was not one single COVID-19 pandemic factor that determined the decision but a combination of COVID-19 restrictions, the safety of players, and projected financial increases of travel, testing, extra apartments, and other precautionary expenses.
“We are fully committed to the Thunderbolts coming back for the 2021-2022 season. Coach Bes will be coming back to Evansville after January 1, 2021 to work on sponsorships, season tickets, and be in the community. Even though he will not be coaching a team this season he will as busy spending the season in Evansville with our fans and partners.”
“This is a tough day for the SPHL, particularly because the circumstances that forced these decisions are out of our control,” said SPHL Commissioner Doug Price. “When we were forced to suspend playback in March, we immediately turned our focus to the upcoming 2020-2021 season. We waited as long as possible for things to improve so that all of our teams could play this season, but I don’t think any of us imagined we would still be facing these restrictions seven months later.”
“For those who have already purchased Season Tickets or purchased Sponsorships, I want to thank all of you.