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T-Rex Forced to Cease Operations for 2003-04 Season

October 8, 2003 - South East Hockey League (SEHL) - Tupelo T-Rex News Release

TUPELO, MS---The Tupelo T-Rex Hockey Team is saddened to announce that the team will not play this season in the South East Hockey League.

With a recent injunction filed on Friday, October 3rd by the now defunct Western Professional Hockey League, currently known as the Central Hockey League, the Tupelo T-Rex will be forced to cease operations due to a clause that keeps the team out of the market for three-year period.

“We felt that this was a non-issue, since we have been playing junior hockey the last two seasons with no problems,” T-Rex Ownership Spokesman Monty Fletcher said. “Unfortunately, the old Western Professional Hockey League, now Central Hockey League wants to keep pro hockey from making a return to Tupelo, and we feel the City of Tupelo, our fans, and the youth that enjoy the sport are truly being hurt and cheated in the process.”

The Tupelo T-Rex played as members of the WPHL from 1998 through 2001. At the end of the 2001 season, the league then merged with the Central Hockey League.

“We were not aware that the Central Hockey League was pursuing this lawsuit to the fullest extent until Friday when they filed a legal injunction in the court system,” Fletcher said. “We have been working non-stop to come to a resolution with our lawyers and all parties involved. We have a great coach in Mark Richards, and he has recruited some amazing players for this season. We have had positive response from fans, both new and old…and yet…a league that is in the business of developing hockey markets and promoting the sport, will not let us go.”

Within the three year period, as stated in the lawsuit in question, the CHL has had the opportunity to place a professional hockey team in the market, but has not elected to do so.

“The CHL is not going to place a team in Tupelo, they know the market and cannot justify the cost of the kind of hockey they are playing,” Fletcher said. “The SEHL makes financial sense, gives hockey a chance in small markets that once were in the professional ranks, and could really work if the CHL were not trying to monopolize minor league hockey and squeeze out teams that can make a go of pro hockey again.”

Fans that have purchased Tupelo T-Rex season tickets will receive a full refund, which will be sent out via mail by Wednesday, October 22nd.

“I know this is going to come as a shock to our fans. Words cannot express how sorry and disappointed we are that hockey will not come back to Tupelo. This is a sad day for hockey in Northeast Mississippi,” Fletcher continued. “The Central Hockey League got what they wanted, they successfully put a damper on the success of hockey in Tupelo now and into the future, affecting our players, our staff, our coach, the youth hockey program, not to mention the fans that have stuck with us through it all.”

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The opinions expressed in this release are those of the organization issuing it, and do not necessarily reflect the thoughts or opinions of OurSports Central or its staff.

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