Bloomington hockey franchise changes name to Thunder

2013-07-23T14:44:00Z 2013-10-03T16:30:20Z Bloomington hockey franchise changes name to ThunderBy Joe Deacon |

BLOOMINGTON — Bloomington’s hockey franchise will carry a new moniker when it enters the Southern Professional Hockey League for the upcoming season.

Rather than engage in a legal battle with the Central Hockey League over the Blaze nickname, the franchise decided to rebrand itself as the Thunder. The team’s new colors are purple, silver and black and the logo features a stylized locomotive.

Team co-owner and president David Holt said the franchise intended to go forward as the Blaze until the CHL’s last-second threat of legal action.

“We had started ordering merchandise and game jerseys were approved and orders placed when we received notice from CHL attorneys that they felt they had a right to the name and logo,” said Holt.

An ownership group that includes Holt, Central Illinois Arena Management executives John Butler and Bart Rogers and former Peoria Rivermen owner Bruce Saurs took over the Blaze in May while also forming an expansion Rivermen team and moving both franchises to the SPHL.

According to Holt, the CHL told him it would not release the Blaze name even if he paid the league $100,000. Holt said that while the team’s legal advisers thought the result of a potential suit could end in their favor, the name change would avoid costly and prolonged litigation.

So the ownership group decided to “use this opportunity to make a break from the old team and league and start to build new.”

The new name was chosen to form a partnership with the Bloomington Youth Hockey Association, whose teams are also known as the Thunder. Holt said the new partnership will help promote hockey at all levels.

“Obviously from an organization standpoint we are extremely happy to be able to partner with BYHA as they have hundreds of participants at all age groups,” he said. “This allows us to work towards our ultimate goal of promoting hockey in Bloomington.”

The change to Thunder marks the third name for Bloomington’s minor league hockey team. The PrairieThunder served as the original hockey franchise at U.S. Cellular Coliseum before being replaced by the Blaze in 2011.

Home openers set: The Thunder will open the SPHL season at home against Peoria on Oct. 25. While the complete schedule is not yet final, a majority of Bloomington home games will be on weekends.

A home preseason game against the Rivermen has been scheduled for Oct. 19, with general admission tickets priced at $7.

Booras to Wichita: Jon Booras, who played all seven of the Bloomington franchises’ seasons, will remain at the CHL level after signing with the Wichita Thunder earlier this month.

Booras was the captain and leading scorer for the Blaze in their two seasons, totaling 59 goals and 139 points in 118 games. Adding his five seasons with the PrairieThunder, he amassed 187 goals and 465 points in 463 games for Bloomington.

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(6) Comments

  1. Corporations_r_the_Socialists
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    Corporations_r_the_Socialists - July 26, 2013 10:44 am
    Just keep it simple... bring back the Prairie Thunder name and logo. I still have tons of PT trinkets laying around the house. I never stopped calling them the Prairie Thunder. It's a great name!!
  2. Soxsider
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    Soxsider - July 24, 2013 7:55 pm
    Well done! It will be great to have all levels of hockey (Learn to Play, House, Travel and Professional) marketed as one in the B-N area. Looking forward to many future years of Thunder hockey, all the way from Mini-Mite to professional. Consider the BYHI logo and colors at to complete the partnership and we are on our way. Go Thunder and thanks to the ownership group for stepping up to partner with our families and kids. Now we just need a name for US Cellular Coliseum when US Cellular pulls out of Illinois......maybe the State Farm Thunder Dome.
  3. mrr
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    mrr - July 24, 2013 1:35 pm
    Underwhelmed with the logo and colors. The logo looks like ordinary clip art. Colors are boring. Wished they had kept the Blaze colors even if it the team couldn't keep the Blaze name and logo. Starting to feel like the SPHL is going to be a big step down from the CHL.
  4. bpwampler
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    bpwampler - July 24, 2013 10:34 am
    The youth hockey logo is a similar train. It is named after a historic train called the "Thunder" that used to come through Bloomington. I personally have a closet full of hockey jersey's with different names and logo's and actually, I would wear any one of them with pride. I applaud David Holt's efforts to support youth hockey and establish a team name and logo that has historic significance to our city and area. Thank you David!!!!
  5. Birgs
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    Birgs - July 23, 2013 7:00 pm
    The railroad correlation makes sense, I can appreciate the compromise due to legalities, but the logo itself is disappointing (particularly if you're going with the railroad theme, go era-appropriate when Bloomington's railroad prominence was historically significant). And don't get me started on purple/silver/black. Way to conform to a decade-old trend.
  6. MRK
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    MRK - July 23, 2013 5:08 pm
    Okay, so at this point for this team, we've gone from PrairieThunder to Blaze, and now to Thunder. What's next, the Bloomington PrairieBlaze? With a brush fire for a logo? I guess they'll maybe do that once everyone buys their new locomotive logo merchandise.
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