Learn the history of the Louisville RiverFrogs


Slugger Field will host Louisville RiverFrogs night tonight, July 8. | Photo by LOUtoday

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Lace up your skates LOU, because we’re gliding into the history of the Louisville RiverFrogs — Derby City’s once minor league ice hockey team.

The Louisville Bats will be paying homage to the team tonight, July 8, for its first-ever RiverFrogs night — complete with a themed Atrium beer release, a commemorative hockey puck giveaway + former team captain Sheldon Gorski delivering the ceremonial first pitch.

Maybe you remember the team and its giant, lime green frog mascot called “Rowdy the Rockin’ RiverFrog” or their catchy commercials. But if you don’t, the Louisville RiverFrogs dominated the ice from 1995-1998 and played in Broadbent Arena, which was nicknamed “The Swamp.”

The team competed in the East Coast Hockey League (ECHL) — about two steps removed from the National Hockey League — and in addition to traditional gameplay, fans looked forward to the various attractions at their games like its giant frog blimp + concessions stands. We even heard the arena had a hot tub.

The team was Derby City’s second tangle with ECHL, as the RiverFrogs were preceded by the Louisville IceHawks (1990-1994). Though the ‘Frogs attracted roughly 4,000 fans per game, the tides changed for the team in 1998 when the American Hockey League (whew, so many hockey leagues) entered the scene with the establishment of the Louisville Panthers, who were set to play 40 games at Freedom Hall that season.

As part of the deal, the RiverFrogs’ management sold the team and they moved to South Florida to become the Miami Matadors — which only lasted one season before moving back to the Midwest to become the Cincinnati Cyclones. The Cyclones still play to this day, but they’re completely different from the retro ‘Frogs we knew + loved in the mid- to late-90s.

Before we make like a frog and hop outta here, check out some Louisville RiverFrogs trivia to impress your friends.


  • Sheldon Gorski, the RiverFrogs’ lead scorer + team captain, has a career 316 goals and 608 points — making him sixth in ECHL history and landing him in the ECHL Hall of Fame.
  • Dieter Kochan was the only Louisville RiverFrog to advance to the NHL after playing with the team.
  • Phillippe DeRouville + David Goverde played in the NHL before joining the RiverFrogs
  • The RiverFrogs’ overall record was 100-86.
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