|Greenville Swamp Rabbits|
|City:||Greenville, South Carolina|
|Home Arena:||BI-LO Center|
|Colors:|| midnight blue, copper, white, silver|
|Head Coach:||Brian Gratz (2015-16|
|2010–2015:||Greenville Road Warriors|
|2015-Present:||Greenville Swamp Rabbit|
The Greenville Swamp Rabbits are a professional ice hockey team located in Greenville, South Carolina. The team is a member of the ECHL and play their home games at the BI-LO Center in downtown Greenville. The franchise had previously played as the Johnstown Chiefs from the ECHL's inception in 1988 until the team's relocation in 2010. The Road Warriors are the second ECHL franchise to play in Greenville, as the city hosted the Greenville Grrrowl from 1998 until 2006. The team was renamed to its present name on August 25, 2015. The name is a local reference to the Greenville and Northern Railroad which linked Greenville to the coal fields in Tennessee and was nicknamed by the "Swamp Rabbit" by locals and was completed in the 1920's.
Greenville Grrrowl Edit
Greenville's first ECHL franchise were the Greenville Grrrowl who were awarded expansion rights in 1998 along with the Florida Everblades in Estero, Florida and played their home games at the BI-LO Center. The Grrrowl would finish their inaugural season in last place in the Southeast Division, with a record of 26-33-11.
The following season saw great improvement by the Grrrowl on the ice, finishing with the third best record in the Southern Conference and reaching the Southern Conference Finals, before losing to the Louisiana IceGators, 4 games to 2. The Grrrowl would see checkered success throughout their time in the ECHL, bouncing in and out of the playoffs before winning their first and only Kelly Cup during the 2001-02 season, sweeping the Dayton Bombers in the finals in four games.
Despite some success on the ice, the Grrrowl continually faced problems with attendance, losing around 1,000 fans per game per season. The Grrrowl would fold following the 2005-06 season, after running a $1,000,000 deficit during 2005 that left the team unable to attract new investors. In June 2006 the BI-LO Center announced they were willing to pay $350,000 to keep the team afloat, hoping to entice developers to save the team. However, the Grrrowl failed to find new sources of financing and the ECHL revoked the team's franchise rights.
Franchise history Edit
Johnstown Chiefs (1988–2010) Edit
The Johnstown Chiefs were one of five franchises that founded the East Coast Hockey League in 1988. Johnstown's initial owners had wanted to name the team the Jets in reference of a previous franchise that had played in various leagues from 1950 until 1977. However, the original Johnstown Jets owners owned the name and refused to allow the ECHL franchise to use it. The owners of the ECHL franchise instead decided to name the team the Chiefs in reference to the Charlestown Chiefs from the ice hockey movie Slap Shot which was filmed in Johnstown.
The Chiefs played their home games at Cambria County War Memorial Arena in Johnstown for all 22 of their season in the ECHL. In the inaugural season of the team and the ECHL, Johnstown finished second in the regular season standings and were the runner-ups in the inaugural Riley Cup finals, losing to the Winston-Salem Thunderbirds 4 games to 3. Although the Chiefs had played in the ECHL for 22 seasons, the had never won a division, conference, Brabham Cup or Riley/Kelly Cup title. Throughout Johnstown's history, the club had affiliation agreements with the Boston Bruins, Colorado Avalanche, Columbus Blue Jackets, Minnesota Wild and Pittsburgh Penguins.
The Chiefs would flounder for several years as the owners of the team tried to find local ownership for the team, but failed. After losing a reported $100,000 per year and facing an expensive rent posted by the War Memorial Arena's new owners, the Chiefs started to listen to offers to relocate the team.
Relocation to Greenville Edit
On February 13, 2010, the Tribune-Democrat reported that television reports from Greenville stated that the Chiefs would be relocated to Greenville following the 2009-10 season and compete at the BI-LO Center. Two days later the Tribune-Democrat confirmed previous reports that the Johnstown Chiefs would relocate to Greenville, pending approval by Greenville's arena board and the ECHL's Board of Governors. On February 15, 2010, the Greenville Arena District Board announced that they had agreed to a five-year deal to bring the Johnstown Chiefs to Greenville's BI-LO Center.
The importance of the new Greenville team financially helps the two nearby teams in the ECHL that had lost a rival (Charlotte) to the AHL for the upcoming season; the Gwinnett Gladiators via Interstate 85, and the South Carolina Stingrays (Charleston) via Interstate 26 through Interstate 385. While Gwinnett is the closer rivalry, the Charleston rivalry is an in-state rivalry and the older, more established rivalry (ninth season versus sixth season).
Cincinnati Cyclones assistant coach Dean Stork was named the franchise's first head coach on June 29, 2010.
Records as of 2009–10 season.
|1988–89||ECHL||60||32||22||-||6||-||70||.583||295||251||Steve Carlson||Lost in Finals|
|1989–90||ECHL||60||23||31||-||6||-||52||.433||233||291||2047||Steve Carlson||Out of playoffs|
|1990–91||ECHL||East||64||32||29||-||3||-||67||.523||324||287||1646||Steve Carlson||Lost in round 2|
|1991–92||ECHL||West||64||36||23||-||5||-||77||.601||294||248||1750||Steve Carlson||Lost in round 2|
|1992–93||ECHL||East||64||34||23||-||7||-||75||.585||281||264||1647||Ed Johnstone||Lost in round 2|
|1993–94||ECHL||North||68||37||27||-||4||-||78||.573||323||308||1978||Ed Johnstone||Lost in round 1|
|1994–95||ECHL||North||68||31||32||-||5||-||67||.492||256||297||1656||Ed Johnstone||Lost in round 1|
|1995–96||ECHL||North||70||21||38||-||11||-||53||.378||249||322||2481||Nick Fotiu||Out of Playoffs|
|1996–97||ECHL||North||70||24||39||7||-||-||55||.392||253||354||2287||Nick Fotiu||Out of Playoffs|
|1997–98||ECHL||Northeast||70||23||41||6||-||-||52||.371||219||297||2118|| Nick Fotiu |
|Out of Playoffs|
|1998–99||ECHL||Northeast||70||27||34||9||-||-||63||.450||218||265||1734||Scott Allen||Out of Playoffs|
|1999–00||ECHL||Northwest||70||33||28||-||9||-||75||.535||235||234||1959||Scott Allen||Lost in round 3|
|2000–01||ECHL||Northwest||72||28||36||8||-||-||64||.444||207||238||1865||Scott Allen||Lost in round 2|
|2001–02||ECHL||Northwest||72||39||31||2||-||-||80||.555||220||232||1688||Scott Allen||Lost in round 3|
|2002–03||ECHL||Northwest||72||28||33||11||-||-||67||.465||214||243||1700||Toby O'Brien||Out of Playoffs|
|2003–04||ECHL||Northern||72||45||20||7||-||-||97||.673||223||195||1491||Toby O'Brien||Lost in Q/R|
|2004–05||ECHL||North||72||22||36||14||-||-||58||.402||191||258||1421||Toby O'Brien||Out of Playoffs|
|2005–06||ECHL||North||72||30||26||16||-||-||76||.527||223||243||1119||Frank Anzalone||Lost in round 2|
|2006–07||ECHL||North||72||33||33||-||3||3||72||.500||216||232||1179||Frank Anzalone||Lost in round 1|
|2007–08||ECHL||North||72||36||30||-||3||3||78||.541||235||234||1568||Ian Herbers||Lost in round 2|
|2008–09||ECHL||North||72||37||30||-||5||0||79||.549||228||232||1472||Ian Herbers||Out of Playoffs|
|2009–10||ECHL||East||72||18||43||-||7||4||47||.326||215||307||1385|| Jeff Flanagan|
|Out of Playoffs|
|Greenville Road Warriors|
|2010–11||72||46||22||3||1||96||255||192||1045||1st, South||Lost in 2nd Round|
|2011–12||72||41||25||2||4||88||232||215||1243||2nd, South||Lost in 2nd Round|
|2012–13||72||36||28||2||6||80||226||219||1248||4th, South||Lost in First Round|
|2013–14||72||39||27||2||4||84||220||208||1009||3rd, South||Lost in 3rd Round|
|2014–15||72||39||29||1||3||82||216||215||1087||7th, East||Did not Qualify|
|Greenville Swamp Rabbits|
|2015-16||72||29||33||9||1||68||205||243||1081||5th, South||Did not qualify|
|2016-17||72||40||26||5||1||86||251||252||N/A||2nd, South||Lost in First Round|
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 Mastovich, Mike (February 13, 2010). "Rumors continue about Chiefs relocation". Tribune-Democrat. Retrieved on February 14, 2010.
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 Mastovich, Mike (February 15, 2010). "Chiefs plan to move franchise to South Carolina". Tribune-Democrat. Retrieved on February 16, 2010.
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 Szobody, Ben and Dykes, Davis (May 23, 2006). Grrrowl not paying some bills, president says. The Greenville News. Retrieved on 2006-09-03.
- ↑ Szobody, Ben (June 15, 2006). Bi-Lo Center may pitch in for Grrrowl. The Greenville News. Retrieved on 2006-09-03.
- ↑ Wright, Bart (February 15, 2010). "Hockey makes a return with the iconic minor league Chiefs". The Greenville News. Retrieved on February 17, 2010.
- ↑ Season-by-season records. hockeydb.com (2008-12-01). Retrieved on 2008-12-01.
- Official Website of the Greenville Hockey Team
- Official website of the ECHL
- Official website of the BI-LO Center