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Nashville Spartans To Join USPHL Premier, Elite Divisions In 2022-23

By Joshua Boyd / USPHL.com, 04/08/22, 2:00PM EDT

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The USPHL is coming to Music City USA, as the Nashville Spartans will enter teams in the USPHL Premier and USPHL Elite Divisions for 2022-23. Jon Tuggle, Zach Sabatini and Brett Werkheiser form the ownership group that is bringing USPHL hockey to Tennessee’s vibrant state capital. 

The Spartans will be playing in the prestigious Southeast Division, home of three of the four USPHL Premier champions since 2018, and all four Elite champions since 2018.

They will play out of Gary Force Acura Ice Arena in Nolensville, Tenn., a vibrant and growing mini-metropolis about 20 miles outside of Nashville proper that is home to Carrie Underwood as well as other local celebrities. 

Tuggle said that he began talking with the Nashville Warriors youth hockey organization more than a year ago about aligning that organization with a junior hockey team. Tuggle and Sabatini brought their experience from formerly working with the Atlanta Mad Hatters. 

“The Warriors were building and expanding, as some old ex-pros were building a rink and starting a youth program,” said Tuggle, adding he got into a conversation with former NHL player Lubos Bartecko. “Lubos asked me, ‘What you did in Atlanta, could you do it in Nashville?’”  

“The USPHL is excited to welcome the Nashville Spartans to the USPHL and especially into the Southeast Division, one of the most competitive and tightly-contested divisions anywhere in the nationwide footprint of our League," said USPHL Commissioner Bob Turow. "With Jon Tuggle and Zach Sabatini already having experience in the League, and with the addition of Brett Werkheiser, we know they will bring a fantastic product to Music City and both the Premier and Elite Divisions.”

Sabatini makes history by becoming the first person to play, coach and own a team in the United States Premier Hockey League. He played with the former Connecticut Yankees (now the Jr. Rangers) and Bay State Breakers in the inaugural season of the league in 2013-14 before moving on to Sacred Heart University. He was for the last three seasons the USPHL Elite Head Coach for the Mad Hatters. And now he has elevated himself to co-ownership of the Spartans, with Tuggle and Werkheiser. 

“A really exciting opportunity presented itself and I couldn’t help but hear more about it,” said Sabatini. “The guys I’m working with are unbelievable guys, they want to do the right things to help players achieve their dreams, advance themselves in hockey and in their lives.” 

Werkheiser brings a great deal of business and management acumen to the Spartans ownership group. A father of five who is very involved in youth sports in Marietta, Ga., Werkheiser is an executive with Uber, directly managing more than 100 employees. He has also worked with startups and other companies to bring several IPO’s to the NASDAQ stock exchange. 

“He has a great brain, especially in business and management, to work with hockey guys like Zach and I,” said Tuggle, who also considers Werkheiser one of his closest personal friends. “We are honored to be able to have him in the ownership group.” 

The Spartans are also excited to announce that Ray Tremblay is already on board as the Head Coach and General Manager for the Spartans’ Premier and Elite teams. A former NCAA Division III player and pro hockey coach, Tremblay brings a great coaching foundation for the Spartans. 

Bartecko will be his assistant coach, bringing his experience from 269 NHL games to the benefit of Spartans players. Additionally, former NHLer Bobby Ryan, with 917 career NHL games played, will be involved in weekly skills sessions for the Spartans. 

“The level of excitement has been building since the beginning of the formation of this team. Add to that the element of being able to come into one of the top divisions in both leagues to start, we are very excited to be bringing junior hockey to Nashville,” said Sabatini. “There is a huge void and a great talent pool in the area to build a premium team for Premier and Elite.” 

To learn more about the Nashville Spartans, go online to nashvillespartanshockey.com, or e-mail Ray Tremblay at r.tremblay@nashvillespartanshockey.com