The Peoria Rivermen have been members of the International Hockey League (1982-1996), the East Coast Hockey League (1996-2005), the American Hockey League (2005-2013) and now will become one of the newest members of the Southern Professional Hockey League for the 2013-14 season.
The SPHL, or Southern Pro League, officially came into existence in 2004 after teams from the dissolution of the shortlived South East Hockey League and World Hockey Association 2. With eight original teams, only five returned for a second season in 2005-06. The league expanded in 2009 by welcoming in three former ECHL markets in Biloxi, Miss., Pensacola, Fla., and Lafayette, La.
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The league operated in 2012-13 with nine teams. Augusta (Georgia) suspended operations at the season's end but with the addition of Peoria and nearby Bloomington into the league, the league will have 10 teams for 2013-14.
Each team plays 56 games (28 home/28 road) during the regular season and the team with the best record is awarded the William B. Coffey Trophy. Teams play for the President's Cup that will be defended by the Pensacola Ice Flyers next year. There have been six different winners in the league's nine seasons. Eight teams qualify for the playoffs and all playoff series are settled in a best-of-three format.
The league is not regulated by the Professional Hockey Players' Association (PHPA) and features different rules than the ECHL, AHL and NHL. Teams will dress 16 skaters and two goaltenders each game (compared to 18 players and two goalies in the AHL). TOvertime will remain 5 minutes in length but will be played 3-on-3 as opposed to 4-on-4. A five-player shootout will determine the winner if the game remains tied after overtime.
The league headquarters is located in Huntersville, NC and is run by President Jim Combs and Vice President Doug Price.