Bruins keep Austin festive

Published 6:56 am Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Students at Ellis Middle School wait for autographs from Bruins players. -- Photo provided

Hockey team giving back in many ways

The holidays are a time for people to come together, and the Austin Bruins hockey team has made that happen this month.

In between games during the past few weeks, the team has been keeping the season festive with many appearances in Austin.

“We have been involved with bell ringing for the Salvation Army for the past few weeks,” said Mike Delhanty, Bruins director of community relations. He added between six and eight players were stationed outside of Wal-Mart this season, which marks their third year participating.

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Players also spread the holiday cheer at Christmas in the City and Christmas in the Southwest, where they did meet-and-greets with fans. The team brought Bruiser along to entertain the children and give them candy canes, Delhanty said.

While Christmas-themed events are coming to an end, the players have some big events to gear up for in the near future. On Jan. 9, 16 and 22, the team will help give tours of the new Mayo Clinic Health System in Austin expansion. From 9 to 11 a.m. each day they will show visitors around and answer questions.

In February, their focus will shift to Paint the Rink Pink, an annual benefit, also in its third year, that funds breast cancer research.

There are also school visits that happen all year round, like Dec. 18’s visit to Ellis Middle School.

“We went there and the players hung out in the [physical education] classrooms,” Delhanty said. They played racquetball and volleyball with the students, and later met a group of 15 for a photo opportunity.

After school on Tuesdays and Thursdays, the players go to the YMCA to participate in the after school activities there.

The children are always excited to meet the players, many of whom they consider their heroes, though many times it takes a little bit for the interaction to loosen up. At first, the children are a little intimidated.

“A lot of them look up to the players and are almost star-struck by them,” he said. “It usually takes an ice breaker.”

But for the team, it’s not all fan visits and helping out around the community. Once in a while, the team goes out for a field trip of their own.

The Bruins toured the Spam Museum as a team to see what it was like. Many of them had heard a lot about it, but had never actually visited.

“It was nice for a lot of the players to see that,” he said. “Austin’s like their second home. To be able to actually witness it was a different experience for them.”