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Florida Seals

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Florida Seals
City: Orlando, Florida, United States (2002-05)
Kissimmee, Florida, United States (2005-06)
League: Atlantic Coast Hockey League
World Hockey Association 2
Southern Professional Hockey League
Founded: 2002
Operated: May 2002 - Jan 2007
Home Arena: TD Waterhouse Centre
Silver Spurs Arena
Colors: Blue, Black, Red, Gray, White
Owner(s): Orlando Professional Hockey, Inc.
General Manager: Sammy Wallace (2002)
Joe Fellini (2002-2003)
Brian Fling (2004)
Chris LiPuma (2005-2007)
Head Coach: Stan Drulia (2002-03)
Jim Paek (2003-04)
Tom Stewart (2005-07)
Franchise history
2002 - 2005: Orlando Seals
2005 - 2007: Florida Seals
Regular Season Titles: 2003 Commissioner's Cup (ACHL)
Playoff Championships: 2003 President's Cup (ACHL)

The Florida Seals was a minor league ice hockey franchise, originally based in Orlando, Florida, United States, they later moved to Kissimmee, Florida. The Seals were one of eight minor league hockey teams purchased or founded by online real estate salesman David Waronker starting in 2003. By January 2007 all but one of those teams had ceased operations.

Atlantic Coast Hockey League Edit

The team was formed as the Orlando Seals, and played its first season beginning in October 2002 with the Atlantic Coast Hockey League (ACHL). That first year's team included former National Hockey League (NHL) players Zac Boyer, David Goverde, Chris LiPuma and Terry Ryan and was coached by former NHL player Stan Drulia. The Seals were running away with the league and won the ACHL regular season. With the backing of several former International Hockey League (IHL) Orlando Solar Bears season ticket holders, the Seals got off to a solid start attendance-wise. The Seals were the winners of the league's first and only President's Cup in 2003 as well as the Commissioner's Cup as regular season champions after an amazing 43-14 record. League Commissioner Jim Riggs awarded the Commissioner's Cup trophy to the Seals and Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer during an on-ice ceremony at one of the regular season's games. The Seals swept both the Macon Trax and Knoxville Ice Bears in the playoffs to win the championship. Sadly, the team won the championship on the road in Knoxville and did not get to enjoy the win on the ice in Orlando.

World Hockey Association 2 Edit

When the ACHL folded, the Seals and two other teams, the Jacksonville Barracudas and the Macon Trax, merged into the new World Hockey Association 2 (WHA2), founded by Waronker and longtime Canadian hockey man and former WHA staffer Peter Young. Joe Fellini, who finished the first season as GM moved up to the league office to work with Young as the Director of Game Operations and Brian Fling, a former Disney's Wide World of Sports employee, took over as GM of the Seals. Fling was later replaced by the recently retired LiPuma as GM.

Southern Professional Hockey League Edit

After the 2003-2004 season, the World Hockey Association served a cease-and-desist order on the WHA2 and it merged with teams from the competing South East Hockey League (SEHL) to form the Southern Professional Hockey League (SPHL). The team went through several coaching and staff changes after the first season. Former NHL'er Jim Paek coached the team for one season after Drulia left to coach the Augusta Lynx of the ECHL. Former Macon Trax head coach Tommy Stewart took the helm of the Seals in 2005 after the Trax ceased operations.

The Orlando Seals were scheduled to play in the 2004-2005 SPHL season, but on August 22, 2004, the City of Orlando revoked its lease at the TD Waterhouse Centre due to a clause stating that the teams ownership put the city in a negative light in the community, causing them to miss the season. On October 19, 2004, the ownership group announced a new three-year lease with the Silver Spurs Arena in Kissimmee. The team resumed play in the 2005-2006 season, hosting their first home game against the Jacksonville Barracudas on October 29, 2005. The Seals finished the 2005-06 season with a 32-17 record with seven overtime losses, placing third in the league, but lost the President's Cup to the Knoxville Ice Bears in four games out of five.

Suspension of Operation Edit

  • On January 1, 2007, the team returned from a road trip to find that their furnished housing was no longer available.
  • On January 3, 2007, the phone number for the team office had been disconnected.
  • On January 4, 2007, the Silver Spurs Arena issued the following statement:


Osceola Heritage Park/SMG announced today that the Florida Seals will not be permitted to host any more of their hockey games at the Silver Spurs Arena due to their failure to meet their contractual obligations. The first game to be canceled is tomorrow, Friday, January 5.

Patrons looking for refunds, please go to point of purchase.

  • On January 5, 2007, the SPHL Board of Governors voted to suspend the Florida Seals from league operations. The players were then subject to a dispersal draft among the seven remaining SPHL franchises. The SPHL issued the following statement:

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - The Southern Professional Hockey League received notice early on the evening of January 4, 2007 that the Florida Seals would not be allowed to host any future hockey games in the Silver Spurs Arena. The entire post from Osceola Heritage Park ( reads as follows:

“Osceola Heritage Park/SMG announced today that the Florida Seals will not be permitted to host any more of their hockey games at the Silver Spurs Arena due to their failure to meet their contractual obligations. The first game to be canceled is tomorrow, Friday, January 5. Patrons looking for refunds, please go to point of purchase.”

An emergency Board of Governors Meeting was called for 9:00AM Friday morning to discuss options and determine the best course of action for the League. After hearing reports from the Director of Hockey Operations, the Chairman of the Board, and Seals Head Coach Tommy Stewart, it was obvious that the season was not salvageable for the Seals.

The Board then unanimously decided to terminate its affiliation with Orlando Professional Hockey, Inc. (dba Florida Seals) and move forward in making any and all changes necessary to the league schedule. It is expected that the full replacement schedule will be approved at the Winter Meetings on January 15, 2007.

“This situation is very unfortunate for all involved, but the circumstances are beyond our control,” SPHL Chairman of the Board, Keith Jeffries, said. “We as a Board are unified and confident in the overall stability of the remaining teams and the League as a whole. We know we will move through this and come out stronger on the other side. While we are disappointed in this latest development with the Seals we now have complete control of the league and where we go from here is completely up to us.”

The Board reconvened at 3:00PM today and held a one-round dispersal draft with each team picking one player. All players not selected in the dispersal draft are free agents. The draft was held in reverse order of the standings based on winning percentage. Here are the selections in order they were taken:

Notes Edit

  • The mascot of the Florida Seals is Sealvester. He wore a jersey emblazoned with the number "05".

Usflag Ice hockey in United States Usflag
National Hockey League
High Level: American Hockey League
Mid Level: ECHLCentral Hockey LeagueInternational Hockey League
Low Level: Mid-Atlantic Hockey LeagueSouthern Professional Hockey League
Semi-Professional: North Eastern Hockey League
Collegiate: National Collegiate Athletic Association
Men's National TeamWomen's National Team

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