EVANSVILLE, INDIANA — It’s been a question on many minds – the name of Evansville’s newest hockey team only guesses until Wednesday afternoon when the waiting came to an end with the SPHL team announcing its new identity as the Evansville Thunderbolts.
The Thunderbolt holds special significance in Evansville, which manufactured P-47 Thunderbolt planes during World War II. For team owner Mike Hall, the name also carries a special significance.
“My grandfather was a designer craftsman at Republic Aviation back in the day,” he said.
The name was chosen by an online fan vote.
“It was a landslide,” Hall said. “Nothing else was even close.”
But there was a problem with the name – it was already in use. Evansville’s NA3HL junior hockey team had already taken the the Thunderbolts name.
“In the very beginning, that was the name I wanted, but there was already a team called the Thunderbolts,” Hall said. “I didn’t think it could happen.”
But the junior hockey team gave the SPHL team its trademark – allowing both teams to become the Thunderbolts.
“This will be a great start to promoting the same thing and the same product,” Ryan McCormack, the NA3HL team owner, said.
The junior team will be known a the Junior Thunderbolts and will adopt the SPHL team’s logo as well, vertical integration that team owners believe will help grow hockey in the River City.
“The youth league kids, they’ll aspire to play for the junior team and then the junior team will aspire to play for the SPHL one day,” McCormack said.
“It just gives Evansville hockey an identity,” Hall said. “We’ve never just had an identity until now.”