FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. – A 2-1 win over Roanoke, a rowdy crowd cheering on a physical rivalry battle, and a first-place team – it was February 29, 2020 in a 2-1 win over Roanoke that the Marksmen last played in front of the hometown faithful. 609 days will ultimately separate the last and next times the Fayetteville Marksmen hit the ice at the Crown Coliseum, as the team announces its Opening Night for the 2021-22 Season – 6 P.M. on October 30, 2021.
While the Marksmen were unable to participate in the abbreviated 2020-21 Season, a notable number of Protected List players – including Brian Bowen, Shane Bednard, Josh Victor, and Jason Pawloski – played parts or all of the season on-loan with another team. Now with all 10 teams returning to play – and the addition of Vermilion County – the Marksmen look to pick up where the untimely 2019-20 season ended: at the top of the SPHL standings.
Head Coach Cory Melkert was a major part of the success of the Marksmen during their last season of play, and expects the Marksmen to be right back into the fold from the jump. Melkert, Assistant Coach in 2019-20, was named the bench boss ahead of the 2020-21 Season.
“It has been a long year-plus for everyone, and it was no different for us as an organization. With the release of our Opening Night, it gives us back a sense of normalcy, and it feels unbelievable to start doing hockey-related work again,” said Melkert “I can’t wait for October to get the players back, and get back to the level we were at last season. I hope the fans are ready for an exciting brand of hockey, and are ready to pack the Crown!”
The events that transpired in those 87 weeks leading to Opening Night 2021 will be etched into the annals of history, but the light at the end of the tunnel has finally grown to a dazzling fire of excitement for the Marksmen Organization. The work behind the scenes in preparation to return on October 30 – the latest Home Opener in team-history – has never missed a beat from the Front Office and Hockey Operations departments. Owner Chuck Norris has been looking forward to hockey’s return since March 2020.
“I’m thoroughly exhilarated to start legitimately counting down the days to bringing hockey back to our fans in Fayetteville. This last year has been one of the most challenging and arduous for our organization, and we couldn’t be more thankful for the support of our community and fans to get us back to this point,” said Norris “From the day our season was shut down 15 months ago, I wanted to leave no room for doubt – the Marksmen are here to stay. Our Staff have worked their tails off to make sure that when we finally got the green light, it was full-steam ahead. I could not be more thrilled to finally see our efforts come to fruition, and to welcome back the best fans in the SPHL on October 30.”
The announcement of Opening Night begins the process of exciting news to come – the Marksmen Home Schedule, SPHL Full Schedule, Promotional Schedule, and more – in the coming weeks. Keep your eye on Marksmen Social Media and MarksmenHockey.com for the latest on the 2021-22 Season.
October is right around the corner, and the Marksmen are ecstatic about returning pro hockey to Fayetteville!