Atlanta Fire Ants

No discussion about professional hockey in Georgia would be complete without a mention of the Atlanta Fire Ants. Richard Adler, David Berkman and Charles Felix brought a Roller Hockey International (RHI) franchise to Atlanta in the summer of 1994, right on the heels of the Atlanta Knights Turner Cup Championship in May. Billed as a summer alternative to ice hockey, the team played eleven games in the air conditioned Omni from June to August. The team was initially coached by George Kozak as John Paris, Jr. was busy with the IHL Turner Cup playoffs then his daughter's wedding in Canada. Paris joined the team after the June 11th wedding. The squad featured two players from the Atlanta Knights: team captain Jeff Madill and Devin Edgerton. RHI rules called for four 12 minute quarters with a fifteen minute break at halftime. Minor penalties were 1.5 minutes in duration and majors were shortened to 4 minutes. Fighting was strongly discouraged, with instigators receiving a game misconduct and a one-game suspension. Teams could dress 12 skaters and 2 goaltenders. The rink had only the center red line, and the rules permitted offensive players to be inside the attack zone ahead of the puck carrier. Offside was called only if the puck was passed to a teammate across the red line. There were two referees and one linesman. The playing surface was either Sport Court or polished concrete, with the latter surface used in the Omni. Averaging 3,388 fans per game, the Fire Ants outdrew franchises in Calgary, Chicago, Edmonton, Florida, New England, Las Vegas, Portland and San Diego. The team went 10-10-2 and made the playoffs but was swept in the first round. With lower than expected attendance and the uncertainty of whether the team would have a place to play after Atlanta was awarded the 1996 Summer Olympic Games, the franchise was sold and moved to Oklahoma City for the 1995 season. 

Click on the photos below for a description of the item.
Top left: Fire Ants leading scorer Tony Szabo (17). Bottom left: Captain Jeff Madill (12). Top and bottom right: Marc Robillard (16) and Mario Therrien (32) get set for a face-off in a contest versus the Tampa Bay Tritons before a sparse crowd in the Omni. Photos courtesy of Jessica Bixby