Trophies represent a lot, just ask David Steinbring owner of Sterling Trophy in Anoka and creator of the North Star College Cup trophy.
“More times than not, it isn’t the victory you see in the trophy,” he said. “It’s your friends, opponents and the memories that bring you back.”
Steinbring’s company created the one-of-a-kind trophy on display at the Xcel Energy Center ice by the inaugural North Star College Cup champions Saturday.
The two-day tournament included the five Division 1 men’s hockey teams from Minnesota: St. Cloud, Mankato, Duluth, Bemidji and Minnesota. With the Gophers serving as host, three of the other teams will participate on a four-year rotating basis.
According to Steinbring, the time from concept to final product was a swift two months.
Steinbring and Mark Bahr, director of operations for the University of Minnesota hockey programs, wanted to include a cup but kept coming back to a rustic-woodsy feel to demonstrate how deep the passion for the frozen game goes in Minnesota.
The result resembles a finely crafted piece of wooden art more so than the shiny, Lord Stanley Cup, which is presented to the NHL’s Stanley Cup champions.
“We kept falling back on what something woodsy and rustic – Minnesota,” Steinbring, a St. Cloud State graduate, said.
Connections to the five schools travels through his family with sister Nancy a Mankato alumni and children Patrick, a graduate, and Kjestine, attending Duluth. “My wife graduated from Nebraska-Omaha, but everyone grows up being a Gophers fan at some point,” Steinbring said.
The cup is made of red oak sourced from Mora, the star inlay is made of birch, another native Minnesota tree, and the base is hickory, which is what hockey sticks were originally made from.
The idea of coming together once a year for a Minnesota-only tournament was a driving theme in establishing the tournament after the conference changes.
Staying with the tournament logo, between each point of the star is the school color, complete with a game puck from the 2013-14 season.
This isn’t the first high profile trophy Sterling Trophy has developed.
The company supplies the PGA Champions Tour’s 3M Championship crystal, placed the championship badge on the WCHA championship trophy, McNaughton Cup for St. Cloud last season and for the Gophers in 2007.
Steinbring also offered to mend the broken Governor’s Bell trophy after the Gophers football team beat Penn State to retain the trophy.
Over the years the business has created some very unique trophies like a championship wrestling belt as a fantasy football trophy and Steinbring admitted the more unique the better. “The creative ones are the most fun to do because at the end of the day there can only be one [trophy winner],” he said.
Part of that joy is seeing the finished project go out the door with an excited customer.
The plan for the North Star College Cup is to keep it on public display year-round with each year’s champion to be added to the base. Steinbring says there is room for 72 winners to be on the original trophy before adding a ring to the bottom, like the Stanley Cup.
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