The Erie Panthers started play in the 1988-89 season in Erie, PA, picking up where the Erie Golden Blades left off after they folded in 1987. The Panthers played at Tullio Arena (now Erie Insurance Arena) and were immediately successful.
The Panthers were known for a fast paced, high scoring style. In fact, they led the league in goals in each of their first two seasons. In each of their first five seasons, they would win more than half their games and qualify for the playoffs each time. Unfortunately they were never able to amount much of a playoff run, getting bounced in either the first or season round each time. By 1993-94, the Panthers would cool off on the ice, and they would miss the playoffs three years in a row. After the 1995-96 season, they would head south to Louisiana.