Savannah Ghost Pirates announce head coach and NHL affiliate

Published: May. 19, 2022 at 4:33 PM EDT
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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - Savannah’s hockey team, the Savannah Ghost Pirates, have announced their first head coach and their NHL/AHL affiliate.

It was a big day for the Savannah Ghost Pirates as the team made two major announcements.

First, their affiliation, the Ghost Pirates will be an affiliate of the Vegas Golden Knights.

Bob Ohrablo, the team president, said, “Vegas was on top of our list, so we were able to get a deal and put it together. I was the happiest guy in the world, I knew this was the team that we needed to be with.”

Vegas joined the National Hockey League in 2017 and has been a force ever since making the playoff every year until this season.

They’ve won one conference championship and two division championships.

This also ties the Ghost Pirates to the Henderson Silver Knights in the American Hockey League.

The hope is that players can go from Savannah to Henderson, Nevada and eventually, the Golden Knights.

As the signs read - what happens in Savannah, goes to Vegas.

Tim Speltz, the GM for the Henderson Silver Knights said, “we get to start with a clean slate. Vegas had that opportunity in the NHL. It’s a little different for us, there isn’t an expansion draft per se, but it’s still an opportunity for us to get the people that we are looking to get.”

Then, another piece of the puzzle was put into place - a coach.

“Presenting the first head coach of your Savannah Ghost Pirates, Rick Bennett,” said Andrew Kaufmann, the Ghost Pirates CEO.

Rick Bennett began his career in the ECHL playing in Florence and Jacksonville before eventually making it up to the NHL.

He coached for 11 years at Union College in New York where he led the team to the 2014 National Championship.

He said he is excited to help build the team from the ground up.

“That’s the fun part about, you know, going the professional now is just kind of learning. I’m relearning my craft and it’s kind of exciting,” said Rick Bennett.

They’ve already sold over 3,500 season tickets... many of whom were on hand for the announcement.

Many fans were sporting gear for their favorite NHL team but regardless said they were excited for the move.

Spencer Gambrell said, “it’s exciting, you know, to bring hockey to Savannah, I think it’s a great thing to have a place where people can come to enjoy a new sport, it’s going to help the city grow.”

While Mary Liber said, “I’m good with Vegas too, because I love Vegas.”

“The Golden Knights are a good team, so it’s ok. Unfortunately they got bounced from the playoffs, so they’ll rebound next year, hopefully with the help of some of these players,” said Mike Powers.

With a coach and an affiliation, the Ghost Pirates can start building their roster, and we’re awaiting a jersey design and mascot reveal.

The Ghost Pirates’ first game is set for Saturday, October 22 at Greenville.

For a full look at the Ghost Pirates 2022-2023 schedule, visit our past story by clicking here.

To watch the full announcement, check out the stream below:

Savannah Ghost Pirates Announcement 5/19/22

#WATCH The Savannah Ghost Pirates are announcing their first head coach and their NHL affiliate! The announcement is set to start at 4 p.m.

Posted by WTOC-TV on Thursday, May 19, 2022

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