A surge of momentum carries Surge to SPHL Finals - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

A surge of momentum carries Surge to SPHL Finals


By Brad Kessie – bio | email

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Mississippi Surge head coach Steffon Walby had a rather relaxing Saturday. His team knocked off Columbus last night and earned a berth in the SPHL Finals. As he reflected on the Surge's accomplishments in their inaugural season, Walby said he had a lot to be proud of.

"I woke up this morning and still had a smile on my face," Walby said during an interview at WLOX.

The smile, and the "fear the beard" growth covering his face, symbolized success in the SPHL playoffs.

"This is where we wanted to be from the start," the coach said, thinking back to training camp, when more than 30 players fought for a spot on Walby's roster. "No where in my farthest memory or in my mind did I think we'd be here. But here we are today, on the tenth of April, in the finals."

The Mississippi Surge qualified for the finals with a convincing 6-2 victory over the Columbus Cottonmouths.

"It wasn't in overtime, it wasn't a nail biter. Truly the cream rose to the top last night," Walby said.

With Columbus out of the way, Walby's team can focus on the Huntsville Havoc, and game one of the SPHL Finals, which start Wednesday night at the Mississippi Coast Coliseum.

"I think right now it's a call to action," the coach said, hoping fans would be boisterous when the finals begin. "Here we are in the finals. First time since '99 that a hockey team has been here in the finals. I think we need to get as many people as we can out there."

The Surge won seven of their eight regular season meetings against Huntsville. Walby said an interesting side note to the best of five series is that the owner of Huntsville also has an ownership stake in Mississippi.

"Be a part of history," the coach said, once again talking to fans, and not his players. "An expansion team making it to the finals, that's history. Be a part of the first finals game ever in the SPHL at the coast coliseum."

The last hockey championship game in the coliseum was in 1999, when a packed house saw the Sea Wolves beat Richmond in game seven of the Kelly Cup finals.

"There's a lot of things to be proud of, of a little old team on the gulf coast that's now stepped in its first year in the league and made the difference."

Walby wasn't here then. But he's heard stories about how south Mississippi sold out the coliseum for the ECHL's ultimate game. He'd like the same turnout, and the same atmosphere during games one and two of the SPHL Finals on Wednesday and Thursday.

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