Bemidji, Colorado fans cheering on the Beavers at Denver
On the road 1,029 miles away from home ice of the Bemidji Regional Event Center, the green and white was easy to pick out in the stands at Magness Arena in Denver this weekend.
Perched high above the ice about five rows down from the last row in the upper deck, a small group of Bemidji State hockey fans from Minnesota and Colorado cheered on the Beavers during the two-game series against the Pioneers.
This weekend's BSU-Denver series was another entry on the hockey travel log for Steve and Sue Engel of Bemidji. They have been following the Beavers at home and on the road since BSU played in Division II. When asked why they continue to follow the team on the road year after year, the responded together with a smile.
"We're fanatics," they said.
The Engels were at the first WCHA road series at St. Cloud State two weeks ago and plan to make trips to Grand Forks, Mankato and Minneapolis yet this season. It's a shorter travel plan than the CHA days when the two would travel to places like Niagara Falls for the CHA Tournament.
The Engels are also regular WCHA Final Five ticket holders and have attended the postseason tournament regularly since it was held at the old St. Paul Civic Center.
BSU will be eligible to participate in the Final Five this year as members of the league. A first-round playoff win in a best-of-three series against another WCHA team is the only way to reach the Xcel Energy Center in March.
"We think they can get there and they're only going to get better this year," Sue Engel said.
Also in that cheering section were Bemidji natives Jennifer Oftelie and Denise Lindom. Oftelie has lived in the Denver area for nine years and Lindom moved to Colorado four years ago.
"The games that we go to we always win," Oftelie joked.
The two friends were both sporting Bemidji State green road jerseys and were looking forward to Friday's game.
"I love to cheer for the Beavers in the opposing crowd because when they're all sitting down after we score, we're standing up and being loud," Lindom said.
The Harris family -- minus one -- was walking the concourse before the game started, Taryn wearing a green BSU hooded sweatshirt.
Her parents, Laura and Craig, do not normally attend Denver Pioneer games. But they came out to support the Beavers with their son Colton a current junior construction management student at BSU.
The hockey-playing Harris family will be reunited later this season and will attend a game at the BREC when Taryn plays a tournament in Winnipeg.
So how did Colton come to pick Bemidji State?
"Well, he liked the construction management program and we think he wanted to get as far away from home as possible," Laura said. "He also likes playing pond hockey and there's a lot of that up there."