New Evansville SPHL Team Possibly To Be Called Thunderbolts?

A lot has been made over the last few months regarding the breakup between the Evansville IceMen and the city of Evansville, Indiana. Lease negotiations took place during pretty much the entire ECHL season as the team looked to stay in Evansville, but talks broke down and the IceMen ultimately decided to move to Owensboro, Kentucky.

What had originally looked to be a move that would take effect next season, the IceMen later announced that due to the facility that was to be their new home in Owensboro needing extensive renovations, the team would be dormant for next season with a plan to begin anew in the 2017-18 season.

The city of Evansville on the other hand, was not planning to be without hockey for a season. Things were quickly put into place to welcome a Southern Professional Hockey League team into the city to take the place of the IceMen. From the time that the IceMen announced their move on January 19th, the city only took a couple of weeks before they announced that they would be home to a SPHL expansion team on February 8th. Just two weeks ago on March 22nd, the team announced their head coach next season in former Texas Stars and former IceMen head coach Jeff Pyle.

As is the case with all new teams, hockey fans always have an interest in what the organizations decide to name their teams and what the brand identity in the form of a logo will be. As I was going through the US Trademark database today, I found a new listing for an Evansville Thunderbolts trademark. On March 30th, the trademark was filed by VW Sports of Evansville, LLC with goods and services listed as entertainment purposes in the nature of professional ice hockey exhibitions. There’s a reason I put the emphasis on professional in that last sentence, as there is already a NA3HL team that holds the name Thunderbolts. This begs the question, could the SPHL team share the Thunderbolts name with the current NA3HL team? It’s seen in many places where junior teams take the name of a local professional franchise and add a “Jr.” to the name. What’s to say the opposite couldn’t happen? With the NA3HL as a Tier-III junior league, a couple of steps down from the USHL, the categories for goods and services most likely don’t specify between professional and junior hockey, but there’s a little more that brings the possibility about.

The LLC that filed the trademark, VW Sports of Evansville, was only created back on February 11th – a couple of days after the city announced they would be receiving the expansion team. And while the LLC is listed on the trademark, a quick search of the NA3HL Thunderbolts website shows that the team is owned by Total Package Hockey, an entity that puts together multiple prospect camps and programs throughout the year, of which TPH has many events listed under the Thunderbolts.

With the team’s own official Twitter listing Thunderbolts as an option for their “Name the Team” contest, I’d say that we have a pretty good chance in seeing the Thunderbolts joining the SPHL next season.

2 comments on “New Evansville SPHL Team Possibly To Be Called Thunderbolts?”

  1. The latest from H-town is that the new NAHL franchise will begin playing fall 2017 in a re-built rink in Sugar Land where the current NA3HL team is playing. The city of Sugar Land now owns half the facility, and over the next two summers Rink A will be re-built to NAHL standards (which I think is 1500+ seats). That means literally raising the roof (which is starting to leak anyway), knocking out walls, and adding seats. I haven’t seen any drawings, but we might wind up with a “U”-shaped seating with limited seating on one long side and nothing on one end. A bit of a kluge but effective.

    That would seem to push the new Sugar Land arena for a pro team off into the 5+ year time frame. However, I was told by one person that isn’t necessarily so. The critical path on the new arena is attracting a pro franchise. Right now, there are none realistically available. But if there is a commitment, the new arena is a “go” regardless of the NAHL.

    (My guess is if there is a Sugar Land AHL/ECHL team, it will be affiliated with Arizona or Las Vegas.)

    Of course, we in the hockey community are still praying for Le$ Alexander to sell the Rockets…..

  2. Bad news…. Sugar Land rink broken and might be going out of business. NA3HL team sold and relocating to College Station.

    We were lied to about the NAHL team.

    No movement on new arena. Dead in the water for the foreseeable future.

    Houston is truly hockeyless for 2016-2017!

    Oh, well……

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