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Windsor hockey team looks to community for support after surprise of having to change its name

The local Junior C hockey team will no longer be donning Avon River Rats jerseys due to copyright infringement.
The local Junior C hockey team will no longer be donning Avon River Rats jerseys due to copyright infringement. - FILE

No more River Rats

Avon’s junior C hockey club is holding its first annual indoor ball hockey tournament as a fundraiser to help cover costs of changing its name.

The team, formerly the Avon River Rats, was faced with legal trouble this April after an American marketing company got in touch and instructed the team to discontinue using the River Rat name and logo due to copyright infringement.

The company still owns rights to the name even after its original hockey team, the Albany River Rats, was sold and relocated in 2010 under a new name to Charlotte, North Carolina — something that came as a surprise to Janet Laybolt, operations manager for the Avon club, who said the original founder of the Windsor team must have assumed the name was safe to use.

“I think whoever started the team really didn't think about it, as it was a junior A team from the States,” said Laybolt.

Laybolt was given two options by the company — to either surrender all jerseys, merchandise and other objects bearing their name and logo, or to battle it out in court.

 

The team has the option of keeping the River Rats name but would have to create a new logo and have the U.S. marketing company OK the design. But, since the team must purchase new jerseys anyway, it was advised to make a clean break from the River Rats name and start fresh.

And now, the team is hoping for some help for the many costs associated with this significant change.

Laybolt says along with paying for the design of the new logo and the two sets of jerseys and socks that also need to be replaced, keeping a junior C hockey team on the ice is a substantial financial commitment.

But she has no plans to let these costs stop her from keeping the team alive.

“We are not giving up on this team,” said Laybolt.

“The coaches and staff are strongly committed to keeping this team viable for years to come and to have a place for our local young men to continue playing this game at a competitive level close to home.”

Laybolt also spoke of how much she — along with the team and association members — appreciates the community’s support as they hold fundraisers and always attend the team’s games.

“This team would not be possible without our community,” she said.

The ball hockey tournament will take place June 23–24 at the GFL — Newport Recreation Centre in Brooklyn. There is also a co-ed slow pitch tournament in the works for August. Details will be announced soon on the Facebook Fan Page, Avon Junior C Hockey Club Fan Page 2018/2019.

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