Junior hockey team’s name set — Austin Bruins
Austin, meet the Bruins.
After holding an online naming contest last week, Craig Patrick, the owner of Austin’s new junior hockey franchise, announced Monday that the team would be paying homage to the famous Boston-based National Hockey League team of the same name.
Patrick, a longtime hockey fan himself, said Austin’s junior team will certainly be recognizing its Beantown brothers by likely using black and gold trim and a logo inside a circle — both Boston mainstays. But he said Austin’s team will have its differences, too, such as a unique primary logo and jersey design.
“We are (paying respect),” Patrick said, “but we also don’t want to copy everything they do.”
The owner said the Bruins was one of many good suggestions entered by roughly 400 participating fans. Patrick said personal favorites included the Arrows, the Aces, the Bandits and the Rivermen, but he said he liked the Bruins from the beginning.
“We thought about every single name,” he said. “We just liked that name before.”
The moniker was solidified, Patrick said, when he saw that a number of fans suggested it. As of Monday, the owner was still finalizing who will get a free set of season tickets — the announced prize for submitting the selected name.
It will still be about a week before an actual logo is finished, Patrick said. He added that a designer with the North American Hockey League, which the team will be joining in the fall, will create the logo.
Patrick also needs to get a bear suit — a bruin is another name for a brown bear, and the owner said he’d like a good mascot to interact with fans. Patrick added that he’d really like to emphasize bears because they were an important part of early settlements along the Cedar River.
Austin residents responded to the new team name with mixed reviews Monday. While some said they were glad the moniker departed from the standard “Hormel-SPAM” theme so prevalent in town, others said the nickname wasn’t very creative.
“I think the name is good,” local businessman Brandon Maricle said. “I just wish it was a little more original.”
Maricle added that he was ultimately “glad” a team was coming to town.
Austin salesman Rich Bergstrom said he would have liked a name that was more closely tied to the area.
“There are probably better names out there,” he added.
Local business owner Bob Ford echoed that sentiment.
“They should have something more to do with Austin, a little less to do with Boston,” he said.
However, like Maricle, Bergstrom and Ford said they were both just happy to see a new team in town and were looking forward to possibly going to some games.
Nancy Erickson, who works at Austin Catholic Schools, said she thought the historic name was a good fit.
“I think it’s fantastic,” she said, adding that she and her son Nate will “definitely” go to some games.
But some said they were simply excited for the new franchise and didn’t care what name was picked. Austin retiree Linda Halvorson joined that crowd.
“I just love hockey,” she said. “I don’t care what they call them.”
The Austin Bruins are set to begin play in September. They will compete in the NAHL’s Central Division, which features the Albert Lea Thunder, the Alexandria Blizzard, the Bismarck Bobcats and the Owatonna Express, as well as an Iowa franchise that is headed to Wisconsin.