New minor league hockey team to locate in Savannah

State News

An NHL puck sets on the ice before a faceoff in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup final series between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the San Jose Sharks Monday, May 30, 2016, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)

SAVANNAH, Ga. (AP) — Savannah’s new arena will host a minor league hockey team.

Officials announced plans Wednesday for the team to join the ECHL, formerly known as the East Coast Hockey League, beginning in the fall of 2022.

The owners of the ECHL’s Jacksonville Icemen in Florida will also own the new Savannah team, which will play in a 9,500-seat arena. League rules allow groups to own more than one team.

Bob Ohrablo, part of the ownership group, tells the Savannah Morning News that fans will be able to help select a name for the team.

The ECHL is a developmental league affiliated with teams in the National Hockey League and American Hockey League, a higher minor league. In a normal regular season pre-pandemic, teams play 36 home games from October to April.

Only 13 of 26 teams in the league are operating this year, but it plans to return to full operations next fall.

“That’s the idea,” Ohrablo said. “We’re putting a lot of stock into that vaccine.”

Ohrablo said some Savannah residents could eventually be invited to buy ownership shares.

Unlike many southern cities, Savannah has never had a minor league hockey team. Besides Jacksonville, the league now has teams in suburban Atlanta; North Charleston, South Carolina; Greenville, South Carolina; Orlando, Florida; and Estero, Florida.

Savannah has hosted a college hockey tournament since 1999.

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