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Unveiling the top five NCAA hockey mascots

By Paul Patane, SportsEngine, 06/27/20, 9:45AM MDT

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Hub exclusive: We shared our picks for the top NHL mascots in late May. Now it's time to reveal our selections for the best college hockey mascots.

Not all NCAA mascots are created equal, which makes it important to acknowledge and respect the good ones. This is particularly important in hockey, a non-revenue sport on most college campuses that’s often overlooked.

Whether they’re Division I or Division III mascots, each of the selections below take pride in supporting their campus community, and they’re each known for having a formidable hockey presence. One of the mascots, the No. 2 pick, is even a hockey-specific mascot for his campus.

The college mascot landscape changes rapidly, so if this list were done just a year ago it would likely look different, making it easy to suggest if this list were to be updated in 2021, there could easily be one or two changes. Redesigns are prevalent, logos get tweaks, and mascots change to fit those new aesthetic choices.

Read through the picks and then be sure to vote for your favorite in the poll on the bottom of the page. And in late May, we took a dive into the mascots of the NHL and chose our five best, much like in this article. To view our top NHL mascots, click here.

Buster Bronco has to work out like everyone else. It's not easy being buff. All photos courtesy of each university's athletic department

Buster Bronco has to work out like everyone else. It's not easy being buff. All photos courtesy of each university's athletic department

5. Buster Bronco, Western Michigan

Don’t let those tame eyes fool you, Buster Bronco has no problem working himself to a gallop when it comes to showing his passion in the arena and he likes to engage his fans on social media. He made his first appearance in 1981 but didn’t become the official mascot of Western Michigan University until 1988. Buster has undergone lots of subtle tweaks in subsequent years. If you live in Kalamazoo County, where the university is located, he can be booked for appearances on the cheap, provided you give him plenty of water and a 15-minute break each hour.

Nook the mascot is proud to represent all Nanooks, which is an Inuit word for polar bears.

Nook the mascot is proud to represent all Nanooks, which is an Inuit word for polar bears.

4. Nook, University of Alaska Fairbanks

The University of Alaska’s sports teams are called the Nanooks, which is an Inuit word for polar bears. Nook, the school’s mascot, is one of those polar bears who simultaneously looks fierce but somehow also seems kind. The university had no mascot for athletics from the early 1960s until 1998, when two fans started showing up at university sporting events in not-so-impressive polar bear suits. Now, with redesigned suits that are much more refined, the campus community takes great pride in being the Nanooks, as they help represent Fairbanks’ ties to Alaskan native culture.

The Friar at Providence College has gotten trendy, showing up in ESPN “This is SportsCenter” commercials.

The Friar at Providence College has gotten trendy, showing up in ESPN “This is SportsCenter” commercials.

3. The Providence Friar, Providence College

Until 2001, Providence College’s mascot history mostly consisted of the Rhode Island-based Catholic school having a Dalmatian live on campus that would be marched into sporting venues to watch games. There were five Friar Boy dogs in total, and after Friar Boy V passed away the school transitioned to the Providence Friar with the inflatable head we see today. Depending on lighting, he can appear either jolly or menacing. Today’s Providence College mascot is so popular he’s been in ESPN “This is SportsCenter” commercials and he gets the “Friars Fanatics” student section going on command.

Yes, there really is a hockey mascot that's an anthropomorphic hockey puck wearing a helmet.

Yes, there really is a hockey mascot that's an anthropomorphic hockey puck wearing a helmet.

2. Puckman, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI)

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI), which hosts its men’s and women’s hockey games at Houston Field House in Troy, New York, is where you’ll find Puckman, an anthropomorphic hockey puck that wears a helmet and is often seen carrying a hockey stick. RPI has a convoluted history with its mascots but Puckman has been a popular fixture around the school’s hockey programs dating to 1998. Designs of him go back to the late ’70s, according to RPI’s athletic department website. He’s as fun and ridiculous as he sounds. If he had a more active presence on social media for fan interactions he’d top this list.

Four-time national champion Goldy Gopher represents the State of Hockey with vigor on an annual basis.

Four-time national champion Goldy Gopher represents the State of Hockey with vigor on an annual basis.

1. Goldy Gopher, University of Minnesota

Goldy Gopher is always a top mascot nationally and he’s an institution in Minnesota, regardless of sport. The University of Minnesota Twin Cities mascot shows up to just about everything, is always packed with energy, and he’s enormously popular with both students and fans. He also has pedigree, as he’s a four-time national champion (2011, 2013, 2017, 2018) for mascots at the Universal Cheerleaders Association National Championships, an annual event held in Florida. Goldy’s Golden Gopher history dates to 1952 and he’s known for his rivalry with Bucky the Badger from Wisconsin. Goldy’s an amazing skater, gets along great with the university’s hockey cheer team, is known for taking “Spin your head” requests and he’s even got his own statue on campus.


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