Hockey could return to the coast for the 2014-15 season

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Less than two months ago, the Mississippi Surge announced that they will not be returning to the SPHL. The Surge still won't, but a team could represent Biloxi in the SPHL as early as the 2014-15 regular season.

"It's definitely a possibility and that's a goal we're working under but we're also working under the contingency that it may end up being next year as well," Biloxi hockey team vice president and general manager Andy Makal said. "As we get further into the summer, it does get more difficult selling tickets and sponsorships but we believe there's a solid base here that has worked with the hockey team for a number of years that we think we can shorten that curve a little bit."

The name of the team is still being decided but the front office staff has worked quickly to put together an American idea.

"We have a patriotic style theme that we want to go with to honor the 20,000-plus military members that we have here in the area and we think that's the best way to go," Makal said. "We'll name it accordingly and I think our fans will be happy with that."

The Mississippi Surge played mediocre at best over the last three seasons. After finishing the 2010-11 regular season with the most points (74) and winning the league championship, the Surge fired head coach Steffon Walby and hired Jeff Bes.

Since Bes was named head coach, the team has finished no higher than fifth place, sporting a combined record of 76-75-17 over three seasons. While the Surge made the playoffs all three years, they lost to the two-time defending champion Pensacola Ice Flyers in each of those playoff appearances.

Some casual hockey fans are skeptical about the idea to bring sticks and pucks to the Mississippi Coast Coliseum again. However, Makal says the experience this time will be much better with the fans and investors.

"I think that helps with a new investment group because you're getting that detachment," Makal said. "You're basically starting over from zero. You're rebuilding any burned bridges that were out there.

"This is meant to be an entirely new venture. It's a new organization, new philosophy and a new culture. We want to move forward. There's a great tradition here, and we plan to honor that, but at the same time we're looking at the future and we want it to be big and bright and get as many people excited about it as we can."