As their first game approaches, the Evansville Thunderbolts are vying for a successful debut season.
Members of the Southern Professional Hockey League, the Thunderbolts are filling a void in the city’s hockey scene by taking over for the Evansville IceMen at the Ford Center. In their debut season, the Thunderbolts will have strong Evansville connections. The team’s owner is Mike Hall, a local businessman and former IceMen season ticket holder.
Jeff Pyle will serve as a head coach and general manager role, giving him some say in the business operations. Pyle has connections of his own to Evansville, as he served as the IceMen’s head coach during the 2013-14 season.
According to Hall, the anticipation of the Thunderbolts’ arrival is growing as the team gets closer to making its debut. More from the Evansville Courier & Press:
“The surprising thing is a lot of people know who I am now,” said Hall, the majority owner of the Thunderbolts of the Southern Professional Hockey League. “I’ve never had to deal with anything like that before. But now when I go out to eat lunch, I definitely have to watch where I go because I don’t want to talk hockey all the time.”
Of course, having more people talking hockey in Evansville can’t be bad when you are in the business of selling tickets for a minor-league franchise. The chatter shouldn’t slack off any time soon, either. The Thunderbolts’ players report for physicals on Monday and begin training camp at Swonder Ice Arena on Wednesday, which means it won’t be long before pucks are being dropped again on the ice inside the Ford Center.
The Thunderbolts signed a five-year lease for the Ford Center in March, and the team’s name was announced in April. Their first game at the Ford Center is scheduled for October 22.