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Marksmen Hit Target with Entertaining, Family-Friendly Games

by Fran Stuchbury
December 6, 2023 - SPHL (SPHL) - Fayetteville Marksmen


Fayetteville Marksmen battle the Huntsville Havoc
Fayetteville Marksmen battle the Huntsville Havoc
(Fayetteville Marksmen, Credit: Fran Stuchbury)

Just 71 miles separates Raleigh, North Carolina, from Fayetteville, home of the Fayetteville Marksmen of the SPHL, formerly the Southern Professional Hockey League. Sunday's Salute to Service game against the Huntsville Havoc featured military themed jerseys, providing an appropriate time to check out the veteran-owned team.

The Southern Professional Hockey League was founded in 2004 and consists of ten teams: the Birmingham Bulls, Evansville Thunderbolts, Fayetteville, Huntsville Havoc, Knoxville Ice Bears, Macon Mayhem, Pensacola Ice Flyers, Peoria Rivermen, Quad City Storm, and Roanoke Rail Yard Dawgs.

The Marksmen enjoy a relatively long franchise history, beginning their tenure as the Cape Fear FireAntz in the Atlantic Coast Hockey League for the 2002-03 season. Cape Fear then played in the South East Hockey League the following year before the teams in the SEHL and World Hockey Association 2 banded together to form the Southern Professional Hockey League. The franchise then became known as the Fayetteville FireAntz.

In 2017 the team rebranded to the Fayetteville Marksmen to represent to the area's ties to the United States Army, Fort Liberty and the native Carolina red fox as well as its veteran ownership. Their owner since 2017 is Charles Norris, a former Fort Bragg soldier.

The Marksmen play at the Crown Coliseum with a seating capacity of 10,000 which has been the home to several team over the years including:

  • Fayetteville Force - Central Hockey League - 1997-2001.

  • Fayetteville Patriots - National Basketball Developmental League - 2001-2006.

  • Indoor Football teams - Cape Fear Wildcats, Fayetteville Guard, Fayetteville Force, Cape Fear Heroes, and Fayetteville Mustangs.

The Marksmen have shared the arena with the Fayetteville Fury of the National Indoor Soccer League since 2021.

Single game tickets for the Marksmen range from $34 for the most expensive seats down to $11 for the least expensive, making games an affordable experience for families. In addition, parking is free. Parking for the NHL's Carolina Hurricanes runs $25 alone.

The family-friendly amenities don't stop at the cost of admission, either. The arena features an enclosed area on the concourse in which children can play hockey with two goal nets in place. Franchise mascot Marky, who joined the team when it rebranded in 2017, was easy to spot, and several fans were wearing the popular fox ears available in the arena.

Intermissions also provided some fun. Five fans took to the ice following the first period for musical bean bag chairs. The next break featured a chuck-a-puck promotion with the victorious fan winning margaritas and tacos.

Fayetteville defeated the Huntsville Havoc 5-4 in overtime in front of 2,618 fans to sweep the two-game, home series. The Marksmen also defeated the Havoc 4-2 on Saturday.

After two periods the Havoc held a 2-0 lead. After a defensive battle for much of the game, the third period was action packed with six total goals.

The Marksmen scored three answered goals by Anthony Yurkins, Max Johnson and Simon Boyko to take a 3-2 lead. The Havoc tied it up on Brandon Osmundson's second goal of the game and eighth of the season with 1:12 remaining.

The Marskmen appeared to be on the verge of winning the game when Boyko potted his second goal, ninth of the season, with 15 seconds left, but Huntsville's Alex Kielczewski knotted the score again with 0.1 second left to send the game into sudden death overtime.

Overtime consists of three-on-three hockey for five minutes, but Fayetteville needed just 2:03 to win it as Grant Loven scored his sixth goal of the season to lift the Marksmen to first place in the SPHL standings at 11-3-2, good for 24 points. Goalie Conor O'Brien made 24 saves and improved to a 7-1 record.

Fayetteville plans many different promotions this season, including three games when they will rebrand as the Carolina Reapers.





Images from this story

Carolina Reapers logo
Carolina Reapers logo

(Fran Stuchbury)
Fayetteville Marksmen tank Zamboni
Fayetteville Marksmen tank Zamboni

(Fran Stuchbury)
Fayetteville Marksmen chuck-a-puck
Fayetteville Marksmen chuck-a-puck

(Fran Stuchbury)
Crown Coliseum, home of the Fayetteville Marksmen
Crown Coliseum, home of the Fayetteville Marksmen

(Fran Stuchbury)
Kids play hockey at a Fayetteville Marksmen game
Kids play hockey at a Fayetteville Marksmen game

(Fran Stuchbury)
Author Fran Stuchbury and Fayetteville Marksmen mascot Marky
Author Fran Stuchbury and Fayetteville Marksmen mascot Marky

(Fran Stuchbury)
Fayetteville Marksmen win
Fayetteville Marksmen win

(Fran Stuchbury)
Fayetteville Marksmen battle the Huntsville Havoc
Fayetteville Marksmen battle the Huntsville Havoc

(Fran Stuchbury)
Fayetteville Marksmen battle the Huntsville Havoc
Fayetteville Marksmen battle the Huntsville Havoc

(Fran Stuchbury)
Fayetteville Marksmen battle the Huntsville Havoc
Fayetteville Marksmen battle the Huntsville Havoc

(Fran Stuchbury)
  

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