Bemidji State University hockey players got their first look at the Bemidji Regional Event Center Wednesday.
The men's and women's teams, along with members of the BSU Student Senate, got up-close views of the BREC during a tour given by Kraus-Anderson representatives.
Their first stop was what will become center ice.
"I loved it. It's really cool," said sophomore defenseman Brad Hunt of British Columbia.
BSU hockey will be the anchor tenant of the BREC when it opens next October.
Project Superintendent Gregg Judge said workers are behind schedule on the exterior, but are ahead of schedule inside the BREC. Once the facility is enclosed - expected by around Thanksgiving - work will quickly catch up, he noted.
Sophomore forward Darcy Findlay of Quebec said the BREC is among several factors building excitement for the hockey program.
Last season, BSU for the first time reached the Frozen Four, the national champisonhip tournament for Division II NCAA hockey. Next year, the BSU men's team will join the women's team in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association, one of the premier collegiate conferences.
The BSU women's hockey team and the BSU student senate also took part in Wednesday's tour.
This season, unbeaten BSU (7-0-1 overall, 4-0-0 in its College Hockey America) is ranked No. 7 nationally - the highest ranking of any Minnesota team - after climbing up from No. 11.
Bemidji State travels to Minneapolis this weekend for a Saturday-Sunday series against Minnesota at Mariucci Arena.
"This is a great time for our program," Findlay said. "We seem to be building off of what we've accomplished."
Even though they won't get to actually play in the new arena, seniors, too, were excited about the facility.
"It looks great," said senior forward Chris McKelvie, a captain, from New Brighton, Minn.
"There's been a lot of talk for a long time now about getting a new arena," agreed senior forward Tyler Lehrke of Park Rapids. "It's exciting."
The Beavers now compete on the BSU campus at the John Glas Fieldhouse, which opened Nov. 17, 1967.
But, even following the tour of the BREC, players said it won't be difficult at all to return to the John Glas Fieldhouse for the remainder of this season.
"Not at all," Hunt said. "The Glas is a special place."