The Suncoast Suns played the 1971-72 and 1972-73 seasons in the Eastern Hockey League and in their final season, from October to December 1973 in the Southern Hockey League.

The Suncoast area of St. Petersburg on Florida's west coast hosted the Suns with their home games played in the Bayfront Center Arena on Tampa Bay. The Suncoast Suns hockey team was the area's first professional hockey team and laid the groundwork for future teams including the Tampa Bay Lightning across the bay in Tampa.

The Suncoast Suns were considered a class D hockey team in the rough and tough Eastern Hockey League. The entire Southern Division withdrew from the EHL in May of 1973 and formed the Southern Hockey League. The Suns didn't complete their first season in the SHL. The team folded in December of 1973.

The Suns combined record was 66-93-21 in 180 regular season games. The 1972-73 season saw the Suns set highs in games 76, wins 30, and losses 37. The Suns never had a winning season, although they did reach the playoffs.

History of the Suncoast Franchise

...from the 1973-74 Southern Hockey League Media Guide


        Ironically, the franchise was started by a group of businessmen from North Carolina. Their original plans were to locate a team in the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill area, but when efforts to have ice facilities installed in a suitable building failed, the group turned to the St. Petersburg area.

        It was a gamble because the only city in Florida in organized hockey, Jacksonville, was failing miserably. But St. Pete offered the Bayfront Center Auditorium as a home arena and the gamble was made, the club being headed by the late Walter Brock.

        The franchise's first year of operation was 1971. While the team was a failure on the ice and at the box-office, several St. Pete-Tampa businessmen became involved at the end of the season and the future became brighter.

        Still, the team did poorly during the 1972-73 season.

        Then the situation improved greatly. At the conclusion of last season, the ownership became completely local and under the direction of President Steve Kirby and Vice President-Treasurer Charles Mackey, two of St. Pete's most energetic civic leaders. Paul Caron was hired as general manager and Larry Kish was named the club's new coach.

        Season ticket sales were nearly three times as great as ever this year, a contending team was promised and it appears hockey is on the Suncoast to stay. 


* Actor James Garner was, for a time, a part owner of the Suns. And a proud, hands-on owner. During an appearance on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, Garner referred to his team as the "Seacoast Suns." ...St. Petersburg Times.