Goaltender Alexandre Fomitchev saves a shot from a Florida Everblades player. Manditory Credit: Bill Lax

How does Tallahassee fit into all this?


I decided to stray away from the Panthers for a moment to delve into my past hockey experience and recall the team that first introduced me to the sport. This team may or may not be well known among many hockey fans, but it was big in the city it was in. That team is the Tallahassee Tiger Sharks of the ECHL.  The Tiger Sharks started up in 1994 in the Tallahassee-Leon County Civic Center after being moved from Huntsville, AL. Sporting black and grey uniforms, and a crazy mascot called Frenzy, they became well known for their enforcers more than their overall hockey skill in Tallahassee. They were also affiliated at the time with several NHL teams, such as the New York Islanders, the Montreal Canadians, and in 96, the Florida Panthers. In Their 97-98 season they became South Division Champions. I remember as a child that there were two main rivalry teams to the T-Sharks: The Jacksonville Lizard.

Kings (non-existent) and the Louisiana Ice Gators (also gone.) In fact, the best hockey fight I ever saw occurred during the 97 or 98 season against the Louisiana Ice Gators. Both benches cleared in a matter of moments, and it took forever for all the penalties to be assessed (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R6CDIDjzLkY&feature=share). The team did do more than throw punches during their entire duration, and several ex-T-Sharks are still in the NHL. Michael Ryder of the Dallas Stars spent the 200-2001 season with the Tiger Sharks, playing in only 5 gaes but put up 4 goals and 5 assists during that time (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Ryder). Micheal Fritz also played during the 2000-2001 season and is currently with the Norfolk Admirals. Ben Guite played during the 2000-2001 season before heading to the AHL Bridgeport Sound Tigers. Todd Reirdon played during the 1994 season and is now known as the assistant coach to the Pittsburgh Penguins. Lastly, Manon Rheaume played during the 1994 season, after playing an exhibition game for the Tampa Bay Lightning in 1992, being the first women to play an NHL exhibition game ever.

While the team did move in 2001, many fans still try to bring the team back to Tallahassee, but to no avail. Instead, the closest hockey to this city is the Tampa Bay Lightning of the NHL. The team may be gone, but I still remember how much of an impact it made on the town, and on myself. If they did not exist, I would not have known what a puck was for a long time. The team may be gone, but they are certainly not forgotten.

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