BSU women excited for the BREC future
Often overlooked in the Bemidji State hockey program's transition to the Western Collegiate Hockey Association and the Bemidji Regional Event Center is the effect the new venue will have on the Bemidji State women's hockey team.
"I think the biggest thing for us is that when we bring in a recruit we can show off this facility and show the prospective players and family that something special is going on here," Bemidji State women's hockey head coach Steve Sertich said. "We have something we can compete with on an even level with other programs now."
The women's program often operates in the shadow of the men's program on campus at John Glas Fieldhouse. The women usually play Friday night-Saturday afternoon series and sometimes draw less than 100 for games.
Part of that can be attributed to the lack of competitive success in the WCHA since inception in 1998-99. Bemidji State entered the current season with a program record of 93-239-35.
Sertich started rebuilding the program from the ground up four years ago and there have been signs of progress. Bemidji State swept Minnesota State Mankato last week and defeated then No. 4 Wisconsin last month.
Wisconsin was last year's national champion.
Beating Wisconsin was a notable feat for the women's program: it was the only the second BSU win over the Badgers in school history.
"We're just happy that we're going to be playing here as well," Sertich said of the BREC. "We've been playing in the WCHA for over 10 years now and we're excited that we can share and grow in the new facility."
When the women's team moves to the BREC, Sertich is hopeful the transition could bring in a new and more prosperous era of Bemidji State women's hockey.
"It think for us it is very special to have this place for our program," he said. "There's a lot of tradition in the John Glas Fieldhouse that the men started years ago. Now we're going to a new place and I hope we can start something special there."
Though the official opening is still a year away, the BREC is something players talk about as the final season winds down at The Glas.
BSU women's captain Erin Cody was impressed most by the intimacy of the rink and the proximity of the stands.
"The big stands surrounding the whole rink will give it a really cool atmosphere," said Cody, who also talked about the adjacent locker room and training facilities. "Seeing the floor plan for that was really exciting ... I think it will be really nice to hang out at the rink and do your workouts in the same area and just the whole facility will make things easier."
The Glas, despite its long history and deep tradition, has been looked down upon by some visiting programs as an inferior and outdated rink.
But with a modern facility, Cody believes the new building will help attract more recruits and make Bemidji State more competitive in bringing better players to the program.
"Overall, I think we're catching up with everyone else ... North Dakota and pretty much everywhere else they have these huge, beautiful stadiums," Cody said. "And I think at the new arena there are going to be bigger crowds so I think as a freshman coming in, I would be really excited."
The BREC is still a dream for the Bemidji State women's hockey program, but it felt a bit more tangible and within reach after Wednesday's tour.
The Bemidji State women are home this weekend to face St. Cloud State in a Friday-Saturday series.
"We're looking forward to it (BREC), definitely the younger girls, but we've still got to focus on the end of this season," Cody said. "We've still got a lot to work to do this year."
Cody feels that when the first face-off at BREC arrives, BSU will be playing in one of the best arenas in WCHA women's hockey.
"It looks huge and I bet it's going to be really pretty. So we're excited," Cody said.