BSU hockey alums reunite
BEMIDJI - Dennis Gibbons can still vividly recall a game against St. Scholastica in the 1980s.
The Bemidji State All-America defenseman was trying to protect the goal late in a tight game against the Saints when he saw a puck sliding through the crease, heading for the net.
"I grabbed it before it could cross the line," Gibbons remembered, "and the referee called for a penalty shot."
Galen Nagle was in the Beaver net when Scholastica scored on that penalty.
"After the goal I went to Galen to apologize for giving Scholastica the penalty shot but before I could he said, 'Gibby, if you don't try and stop it that puck was going into the net anyway. Don't worry about it.'"
Gibbons was one of more than 170 teammates, friends and fans who returned to Bemidji Friday for the 15th annual Galen Nagle Memorial Golf Tournament at the Bemidji Town & Country Club.
He tries to make this an annual trip, and during the 15 years of the tournament he has missed only two.
"We had family vacations scheduled those two years," Gibbons said. "Coming to the Nagle is a no-brainer for me. I come back each year to see my buddies and to honor my best friend of the Beaver years."
Joining Gibbons in Friday's fivesome were former teammates Eric Gager and Todd Donaldson, plus Darren Greenwood and Karl Jacobson of Bemidji.
"I enjoy playing with people from Bemidji," said Gibbons, who lives in Grand Rapids. "Only once in the years I have come to the Nagle have I been in a group with all alumni. For me, playing with people from Bemidji makes the tournament more fun because you get to hear about hockey from their perspectives."
Gager was a right winger on the 1983-84 team that won the NCAA II national title with a 31-0 record. He was raised in Coleraine and now works for the City of Woodbury.
And he plays in the Nagle tournament whenever he can.
"It's fun and it's an honor to play in this event," Gager said. "I come back in memory of Galen. He was a great guy who always worked his butt off and made himself into a great goalie.
"In a way the 'Spiderman' was a real leader. He practiced hard. He played hard. He did whatever it took to be a winner."
Drey Bradley was an All-America defenseman on the 1984 team and he always enjoyed having Nagle between the pipes.
"Galen was a self-made man," Gager said. "He worked his tail off just to be on the team and made the most of his opportunities. He was a good teammate and he was a good friend. And coming back for this tournament has become a tradition."
Beaver head coach Tom Serratore is not surprised that so many alumni make this tournament a part of their summer.
"The hockey base of the alumni and the fans is very loyal," Serratore said. "The Nagle is a great opportunity for the guys to come back and connect with their friends and teammates and to remember Galen.
"The great thing about Beaver hockey is that all of the players know the historical significance of the program. Everybody knows the history and everybody is interconnected within that history."
All money generated through Friday's event will be channeled to the men's hockey program. When the event began 15 years ago it was held at Castle Highlands but eventually the tournament required a larger facility.
"Everyone has enjoyed how this tournament has progressed," said BSU activities director Rick Goeb. "Now we have a morning and afternoon flight. We have room for our auction and our auction prizes are significant."
This year's prizes ranged from an autographed Philadelphia Flyers jersey donated by Beaver alum and current Flyer Matt Reed to tickets to the BSU-UND series in Grand Forks on March 1-2.
"I don't know of any program where this many alumni return for an event and where this many alumni donate prizes," Goeb said. "Beaver hockey is special. Tradition never graduates. Galen's legacy and the legacy of Beaver hockey live on."
"Galen is a legend in the history of Beaver hockey," Serratore added. "And there is no better person than Galen to name this tournament after."