BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - In 2009, the Mississippi Surge joined the Southern Professional Hockey League along with two other teams -- the Louisiana IceGators and Pensacola Ice Flyers.
For the past five seasons, the Surge formed bitter rivalries with those teams. Friday evening, however, Surge team officials announced that they'd be suspending operations indefinitely to decide the team's long-term future.
"We're always speculating on if the team is coming back or not but it always seemed to work out," Surge broadcaster and local radio personality Tommy Domenico said. "Unfortunately, this year the team's not going to return and it's unfortunate for the people of south Mississippi."
The Mississippi Sea Wolves were founded as part of the East Coast Hockey League prior to the 1996-97 season. With over 10 seasons in the ECHL, the Sea Wolves also won a Kelly Cup.
The Sea Wolves became inactive for two seasons due to Hurricane Katrina before rebounding to play two more years. After the 2008-09 season, Sea Wolves officials announced the suspension of team operations before telling coast hockey fans that the Surge would overtake the Mississippi Coast Coliseum as part of the SPHL.
"(Fan interest hurt) with the change from the ECHL to the Southern Professional Hockey League, and not being able to retain the name," Domenico said. "A lot of people don't realize that the ECHL did not allow Biloxi to retain the name 'Sea Wolves.' They had to start a whole new franchise to join the Southern Professional Hockey League.
"I guess (the fans) lost interest because they couldn't relate to a new franchise. Everything was relatable to the Sea Wolves, wanting to refer back to '99 and the Kelly Cup. It was hard for the (Surge) to grasp new viewers and new fans because they were so used to the Sea Wolves."
Surge head coach Jeff Bes has been unavailable for comment on the situation, but he heads into this offseason without a job. The players, who already deal with brutal travel when playing during the season, will look to hook on with another team next year.