East Coast Hockey League
team in Roanoke
, part of the ECHL Northern Conference
, Northeastern Division
. Plays home games at the Roanoke Civic Center
Coliseum, one of the best places to watch a hockey game I have ever visited (at least by minor league
ECHL hockey in the Roanoke Valley has a long and strange past (not to mention pre-ECHL, which gets downright ugly). The Virginia Lancers were charter members of the ECHL in 1988 after migrating from the short-lived All American Hockey League, playing at Lancerlot in Vinton, a suburban town in Roanoke County east of the city proper. In 1990, the Lancers changed their name to the Roanoke Valley Rebels (a somewhat overdue move, given that there were two other Virginia teams in the league by this time), and adopted a logo featuring a maple leaf overlaid in the pattern of the most common Confederate battle flag. They bowed to the political incorrectness of this in 1992, changing their name to the Roanoke Valley Rampage. That franchise moved to Huntsville, Alabama after the 1992-93 season and became the Huntsville Blast (now the Tallahassee Tiger Sharks), to be replaced by the Express.
Since 1993, the Express, Richmond Renegades and Hampton Roads Admirals have usually dominated whichever division in which the three of them have been placed. However, the Express is the only one of those three Virginia teams to never have won a Riley Cup/Kelly Cup. Express fans hate both the Renegades and Admirals, but until the Admirals' 2000 ascent to the American Hockey League, those two teams' fans cared more about each other, and really didn't give a damn about Roanoke.