EVANSVILLE, IN (WFIE) - Two key staff members of the Evansville Thunderbolts are stepping down.
Ford Center Officials say, after a season of growth in sponsorship and attendance, Jeff Pyle, Head Coach, has accepted a Head Coach position with ECHL Atlanta Gladiators.
They say Pete Xander, General Manager, will move into a new position at Duke University.
Pyle has been Head Coach the last two seasons for Evansville Thunderbolts. The veteran coach led the young franchise to their first ever playoffs appearance.
The 17-year head coach spent one season with the Evansville IceMen of the ECHL in 2013-14 after his one season stop with the Dallas Stars' AHL affiliate in Austin, TX.
Pyle started his coaching career in 1998-99 with the Mobile Mysticks and spent four seasons in southern Alabama before relocating with the franchise to Duluth, GA as they became the Gwinnett Gladiators in 2002.
Xander is returning to college athletics where he spent the first seven years of his professional career before joining the Thunderbolts last season.
"This season was fantastic to be part of, and I can't thank Scott Schoenike and VenuWorks enough for giving me the opportunity to lead this franchise. Scott was great mentor to me through this past season and I learned more than I could have imagined from him. It was an extremely difficult decision to leave at this time because [my wife and I] have enjoyed the Evansville community so much, but we felt this opportunity was just too good to pass up," stated Pete Xander.
"Evansville is a special community that really loves their hometown teams and it is because of the fans that this franchise will continue to grow into Evansville's Hometown Hockey Team."
A national search will begin immediately to fill both positions.
The Thunderbolts first home game of its third season in the SPHL (Southern Professional Hockey League) will be on Saturday, Oct. 20 at Ford Center in downtown Evansville.