Pelham, Ala.:  The 14-year second-round drought ended for Evansville hockey fans on Saturday night in Pelham, as the Thunderbolts defeated the Birmingham Bulls 4-3 in overtime to advance to the President’s Cup Semifinals for the first time in their history, the first series win for Evansville pro hockey since the Evansville IceMen in 2010.  Game one against the Peoria Rivermen at Ford Center will be on Wednesday, April 17th at 7:00pm CT, admission free of charge.

Only 42 seconds into the game, the Thunderbolts grabbed the first lead of the night as Logan vande Meerakker sniped in a shot off the rush, assisted by Scott Kirton and Grant Spence.  Birmingham tied the game at 7:04 with a power play goal from Drake Glover.  Following a pair of clutch penalty kills, the Thunderbolts took a 2-1 lead at 18:10 of the second period, as Vadim Vasjonkin’s shot just barely got through Hayden Stewart, assisted by Lincoln Hatten and Matthew Hobbs.  The Bulls tied the game 6:13 into the third period with a goal from Matt Wiesner, before a goal from Dmitri Yushkevich with only 4:28 remaining gave the Thunderbolts a late 3-2 lead, assisted by Scott Kirton.  However, the Bulls answered again to tie the game and force overtime with another Glover power play goal at 16:29.  In overtime it was Hobbs, who started his professional career with the Bulls before joining Evansville two years ago, who scored the series-winning goal 5:28 into overtime, assisted by Myles Abbate and Vasjonkin to win the game and the series for Evansville, 4-3 and 2-1 respectively.

Hobbs scored the series-winning goal along with an assist, Vasjonkin finished with a goal and assist, Yushkevich along with vande Meerakker scored one goal each, and Kirton finished with a pair of assists.  In goal, Ceci finished with 56 saves on 59 shots for his second win of the playoffs.  In addition to  being the first series win in Thunderbolts’ franchise history, it was the 7th time in SPHL history that the #1 seeded team was upset in the first round.  The Thunderbolts will take on the Peoria Rivermen in the  President’s Cup Semifinal, also a best-of-three series.  Evansville will host game one at Ford Center, free to attend, on Wednesday, April 17th at 7:00pm CT.  Game two will be in Peoria on Friday, April 19th at 7:15pm CT, and if necessary, game three in Peoria will be on Sunday, April 21st at 3:15pm CT.

Individual game tickets and group packages are on sale for this 2023-24 season.  Season tickets for the 2024-25 season are on sale now.  Call 812-422-BOLT or visit our all-new website ( for details.

About Evansville Thunderbolts: The Evansville Thunderbolts is the area’s only professional hockey team. The Thunderbolts are a proud member of the SPHL.  The team is owned and operated by VW Sports, L.L.C, a subsidiary of VenuWorks, Inc.