HELENA — The Helena Bighorns took on the Bozeman Icedogs Friday in their new Valentine’s Day jerseys.
Helena is in its 28th year of junior hockey. For its first two years, Bighorns GM and co-owner Mike Greene was the head coach and his now-co-owner, Jed Synder, played for him.
They also coached with each other previously before having the opportunity to buy the Bighorns.
“We were sitting on the couch in my living room and he was like ‘should we do this?’ and I was like ‘I don’t know’ and then we finally said ‘you know what? We’re going to do this’, but the whole philosophy behind everything is do it right,” Greene said.
Greene attributes much of the Bighorns' current success to the community and how local businesses have gotten involved.
“The business community in Helena has been unbelievable to us, everyone wants to be a part of it and that’s awesome. The fans, I mean, we’re selling the place out- they have a blast. and then the players, we have really, really good hockey players- but more importantly they are really high-character young men.”
Because they hold their players in such high regards, they wanted to treat the players and facility as if they were in the pros. They installed a video board, remade the logo to have more of a “hockey feel” to it, and have branded the uniforms, down to the socks, with their sponsors’ logos.
“The name, the Helena Bighorns, is here to stay. The logo, we love the new logo now. For the most part that part of it, but now we want the Helena Bighorns branded as- when you’re a visiting team- it’s a nightmare to play here,” he said.
Valentine’s Day gave them an opportunity to give back to one of the many communities that give so much to them. Friday they held a jersey auction with their specialty Valentine’s Day jerseys, in which 100% of the proceeds went to the Helena Figure Skating Club.
“They give us five volunteers for every game and in exchange for that we’re doing this jersey auction. The jerseys literally come off the players backs and whoever bids the most gets it and all the proceeds go to the Helena Figure Skating Club. They’ve helped us, we’re gonna help them,” Greene said.
The jersey bidding started at $100, and the highest bid of the night was $565, for Tylor Greene’s jersey.
You can see the Bighorns in action Friday when they take on the Great Falls Americans at home. Puck drop is set for 7:05 p.m.