Bruins receive top tourism award

Published 11:01 am Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Austin Bruins owner Craig Patrick accepts the Austin Tourism Toplist Award from Cheryl Corey of the Austin Convention and Visitors Bureau. -- Matt Peterson/

It may not be much of a surprise, but the Austin Bruins received this year’s Tourism Toplist Award from the Austin Convention and Visitors Bureau.

2011 marks the fourth year the Austin CVB has handed out the award — in conjunction with National Tourism Week. Previous winners include The Hormel Historic Home last year, the Hormel Institute in 2009 and the Austin Public Library in 2008.

“Each year, this award goes to the person, place, thing, event or group that was most responsible for increasing tourism to our area in the prior year,” said Cheryl Corey, Austin CVB executive director. “Obviously these guys, with their inaugural season, fit that bill perfectly.”

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Corey, along with Heidi Murray of CVB, presented a plaque to Bruins owner Craig Patrick and his staff at Riverside arena Monday afternoon.

“(We’re) just really happy we’re able to help bring people to town,” Patrick said.

According to Corey, the Bruins’ averaged more than 700 spectators per home game and had seven games with more than 1,000 spectators.

Because Bruins players and staff recognize the welcome reception they’ve received from the community, they’re planning more events for next year.

According to Stephanie Bowe, Bruins account executive, the staff is working on landing more sponsors and will stay busy throughout the summer.

“You’ll definitely see Bruiser around the community this summer,” she said, and added the Bruins will likely hold similar community events as last year.

Patrick is excited about several aspects to next year’s season, as well.

“We’re upgrading some of our stuff to make the atmosphere even more exciting than last year,” he said about Riverside arena. Furthermore, the Bruins will debut a new jersey next year that incorporates Austin into its style, Patrick said. He hopes to improve the team with a few new players and the experience of 12 returning ones next year. He said the staff has been heavily recruiting in Minnesota and Wisconsin and will hold two hockey camps this summer to recruit more.

Although the Bruins missed the playoffs next year, Patrick isn’t discouraged. He said the Bruins were likely the best out of seven expansion teams last year.

“The point is, we were very competitive last year,” he said.

The 2011 NAHL schedule will release in several months, and the Bruins will hit the ice in October.