'At the end of the day, it's still hockey': Former Beavers excited about program’s future as they gather for Nagle golf outing
BEMIDJI -- The greats of Bemidji State's past like where the program is headed in the future.
A group of approximately 50 BSU hockey alumni gathered for the 16th annual Galen Nagle Memorial Golf Classic at Bemidji Town & Country Club Friday.
And across the board, the former Beaver players were excited for what the future holds with the BSU men's hockey program.
"Definitely, the future looks very good the next couple years," said Travis Winter, who played for the Beavers from 2005-2009 and was the team's captain during the team's historic Frozen Four run. "The recruiting classes that they have coming in the next few years look really good."
This upcoming season will see a plethora of changes in the college hockey world -- two new conferences are starting from scratch. A third major conference won't exist anymore. BSU's Western Collegiate Hockey Association is gaining six new members.
Andrew Murray said he thinks the new conferences will benefit the fans and the team.
"It's different, but at the end of the day it's still hockey," said Murray, a National Hockey League veteran who played for BSU from 2001-05 and saw his fair share of conference shakeups. Murray most recently played for the St. Louis Blues in 2012-13 but is a free agent this summer.
"Guys are all playing for the same thing. You've got some good teams coming in and it's good for the fans."
The golf outing, which was started in 1998, is a fundraising effort of the BSU men's hockey program named after the late Galen Nagle.
Nagle, a member of the 1983-84 undefeated Division II national title team, lost a long battle with cancer in 1994 at the age of 34. All proceeds from the tournament benefit the BSU men's hockey program via an endowment fund set up in Nagle's name.
"I'm almost honored to be here right now," said Wendal Jellison, a former teammate and friend of Nagle's on the historic 1984 team. "This group of guys here, they support this really well. I'm humbled to be here."
Jellison hasn't been able to make it back for the Nagle until this year. In fact, the native of Unity, Sask., has only been back to Bemidji one other time since graduating in 1985.
But he said it was almost like he'd never left.
"All the guys here are really friendly," he said. "Everyone here in town still is. I don't know all the classes of guys that are back here. I'm still trying to get to know more people, but that's the special thing about Bemidji State and the Beaver hockey community is that you're family no matter how long you've been away."
Bemidji State head coach Tom Serratore said the reason the event is so popular with former Beaver hockey players because of what it represents.
"It's a great cause and a way of supporting the program," Serratore said. "But most importantly it's a chance for guys to get back together and reflect on their memories here at BSU."
Winter, who first attended the event last season, isn't surprised why it's so popular.
"It's certainly an event you want to be at every year," he said. "It's one of those things where once you play here and you live here you want to keep coming back because the sense of community with the BSU hockey program is so strong."