Professional hockey to return full time to South Mississippi

Over 20,000 fans packed the Coast Coliseum this month for three minor league games in the hopes it would help bring hockey back to the Coast.

BILOXI, Miss. (WLOX) - For the first time in over seven years, professional hockey will once again be played in South Mississippi.

That announcement was made Thursday night to a sold-out crowd at the Mississippi Coast Coliseum as they gathered to watch the last of three scheduled minor league games.

The news was met with thunderous applause and yelling from fans who have long waited for hockey to return to the Gulf Coast.

On Thursday night, the Columbus River Dragons faced off against the Port Huron Prowlers, who wore alternate Mississippi Seawolves jerseys that were auctioned off to support Youth for Christ. Columbus defeated Port Huron 2-1.

Over 20,000 people have packed into the Coliseum over the last few weeks to watch the three Federal Prospects Hockey League games. Biloxi was selected as the neutral site to host the three games, giving officials a chance to see if hockey would still draw a crowd in South Mississippi like it once did.

After those three minor league games, there seems to be little doubt that people on the Gulf Coast want an expansion team back in Biloxi.

“We’re super excited about the Seawolves coming on full time,” said one fan from Vancleave. “We’ve been fans for years. We moved here in 2002 and we’re diehard fans. We love Stephen Walby and that whole genre of folks so we’re just excited to bring that back.”

The Mississippi Seawolves first brought a professional ice hockey team to the Coliseum in 1996. The team called Biloxi home for more than a decade, even once winning the Kelly Cup in what would become an iconic memory for so many on the Coast. After taking two seasons off following Hurricane Katrina, the Seawolves ended their time on the Coast after the 2007-2008 season.

The following year, a league change was announced for the 2009-2010 season, and the sport continued as the Mississippi Surge. The Surge played at the Coliseum through the 2013-2014 season before coming to an end.

Coast Coliseum Executive Director Matt McDonnell said the fans have done their part, and now it’s his team’s turn as they begin working on making the dream a reality. Once the details are worked out, McDonnell said fans can expect to see season tickets go on sale.

To keep up with the latest on the Mississippi Seawolves, follow them on Facebook. You can also look for updates from the Mississippi Coast Coliseum on their website to see when tickets will go on sale for next year.

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Lindsay Knowles

Lindsay Knowles

Lindsay was born and raised in Pascagoula, and attended the University of Southern Mississippi where she earned a bachelor's degree in psychology.

Michael Dugan

Michael Dugan

Originally from Chicago, Michael Dugan is a graduate of Indiana University.