*This article was written on February 21st, uploaded on April 19th.
Last weekend, the Bemidji State University (BSU) men's hockey team saluted the crowd at the John S. Glas Fieldhouse for the last time. The Beavers will finish out the season on the road, then prepare to move to the newly built Bemidji Regional Event Center (BREC) in October.
The Beavers took the ice for the final home game of the season, wearing brand new throw-back uniforms. The uniforms were BSU green with a white number on the front and back to distinguish one player from another. “John S. Glas” replaced each player’s name, in honor of the late university president.
“A lot of games were won and a lot of smiles were put on the faces of students, fans and players," said Head Coach Tom Serratore.
"You’ll miss that," added Serratore. "The low ceiling—how loud the rink was—and again, you look back and how many successful teams we have had here are a by-product of the John Glas Fieldhouse.”
The Beaver's final weekend ended in a sweep of Niagara for the men, a suitable way to close out 43 years of hockey in the hallowed barn. The women, however, were sent off in a somber fashion, losing both games to the third-ranked UMD Bulldogs.
“It’s a good hockey barn. It has obviously a great tradition," said women’s hockey team Head Coach Steve Sertich. “We feel like it’s a tough place for opponents to play in, and I think that has been an advantage to play in for BSU teams.”
As part of Saturday night's ceremonies, players and spectators honored every one of BSU's 13 national champion teams, recognized last year’s Frozen Four Team and thanked all the alumni in attendance.
The evening was full of memories.
“Playing for my first time here,” recalled former Beaver Jake Bluhm. “Just the atmosphere the John Glas Fieldhouse has—the student section—and all the support from the community members and the atmosphere that comes along with the game."
Among the final speakers after the Beavers 6-1 triumph over the Niagara Purple Eagles was former Head Coach R.H. “Bob” Peters. Peters, who has 702 career wins with the Beavers, presided over the passing of the torch. The torch passed from two members of the inaugural Beaver hockey team to the first captain in the Glas and then to current Beaver Captain, senior Chris McKelvie, symbolizing the many generations that have played Beaver hockey in the Glas.
During this ceremony, junior forward Ryan Cramer, who scored the sixth goal of the game and the final goal in the Glas, had his picture taken with the player who scored the first goal at the Glas.
Arena Manager Vance Balstad was also honored during the game, when he made his, "Last Pass at the Glas" between the second and third periods. Vance was awarded with a standing ovation from the student section. They chanted his name and gave him a curtain call before the teams came back on the ice.
The Beavers performed well this weekend, with many players scoring points. On Saturday, sophomore forward Darcy Findlay made two goals and sophomore forward Ben Kinne scored 3 points. Sophomore goaltender Dan Bakala also played well, making 57 saves over the weekend, 32 of them on Saturday.
Not only will the Beavers be moving to a new home next year, but they will also be entering the prestigious Western Collegiate Hockey Conference (WCHA).
“Playing in the WCHA and having a first class major league venue in our town is just unbelievable,” said Serratore. “The people in northern Minnesota and Bemidji are going to be able to be in one of the finest facilities of college hockey in our town, and that is very exciting."
“I think it’s going to be a special place,” Sertich said of the BREC. “I think the hockey center that will be created over there will be exciting for us as far as bringing in families to show what we have to offer."
Serratore's memories of the Glas include many games as a player and as a coach, from winning the 1986 national championship to a last-second tie against Niagara in 2007.
“I think we will miss the memories” Serratore said, “and all the games we’ve won, because we have won 500 games here, and we just hope we can duplicate the success in the new building,"
In the words of legendary coach R.H. "Bob" Peters, “I hope your memories of flashing blade and flying puck in the John Glas Fieldhouse will never fade.”