- Associated Press - Wednesday, June 15, 2016

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (AP) - Springfield’s new American Hockey League team will be called the Thunderbirds.

The team’s management announced the name Wednesday, saying it’s a nod to the city’s previous AHL teams, a tribute to the region’s strong connection to the Air Force and a symbol of the “new energy and spirit that is palpable in Springfield.”

The Springfield area is home to Barnes Air National Guard Base, in Westfield, and Westover Air Reserve Base, in Chicopee.

Management says the name alludes to the city’s two previous AHL teams, the Indians and Falcons. The Thunderbird is important to Native American lore, and like the Falcon is a fierce bird.

The Falcons relocated to Tucson, Arizona, after last season.

The Thunderbirds are the top minor league affiliate of the NHL’s Florida Panthers.

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