Pro Hockey to Return to Winston-Salem

A new professional hockey team is set to come back to Winston Salem next season and is expected to be more successful than the previous teams in the area.

In 1981, the Carolina Thunderbirds played their first game at the Winston Salem Memorial

At first it was a big hit, many families would go cheer on their home hockey team with lots of enthusiasm, but as the decade passed the enthusiasm started to die out. Not much money was being produced and no one was going to see the games, and by 1988 the team was forced to go out of business and the Memorial Coliseum was demolished.

Decades later, Winston Salem decided to bring professional hockey back to Winston-Salem with the Twin City Cyclones in 2007. But to the disappointment of many, the team had to shut down after the 2009 season.

“There were lots of mistakes in the past with pro hockey in Winston, there was not nearly enough advertising and not very much interest in the city,” Scott Brand, the general manager of the new team, said

The Thunderbirds are now set to make a comeback in Winston Salem in the 2017-18 season, and many are hoping this team will have a better outcome than the previous teams. The Thunderbirds will be a part of the Federal Hockey League (FHL).  This will be the furthest team south in the FHL and the team is looking to be very successful this time around.

Jacob Nordskog, a junior at RJR who loves hockey, said, “I’m really excited about the new team I think it will be a great way for kids to get involved with the local youth hockey program.”

Not only will the Thunderbirds be involved with the youth, it will also bring in economic benefits to Winston Salem.

“The Thunderbirds will be very involved with the youth programs, and anyone who uses the ice, and will benefit the community in many ways, like the Dash or Wake sports,” Brand said. “It will do nothing but benefit Winston and bring in lots of economic benefits.”

The team will play at the Coliseum Annex, with roughly 30 home games and tickets will cost anywhere from $5 to $20, depending on location of the seats.

“I will definitely be going to some of their games and will make sure my friends come too,” Nordskog said.

Brand has also expressed interest in moving to a bigger, more competitive, league than the FHL in the future, depending on their success in in the 2017-18 season.

Brand, Nordskog and many others agree that the future is bright for hockey in Winston Salem.

Photo from 88.5 WFDD