Loyal fans bid adieu to The Glas
Jon Quistgaard remembers when the John Glas Fieldhouse opened, and he was among those in attendance Saturday when the facility hosted its final hockey game.
"It's a night of mixed feelings," the Bemidji State University president said. "I've seen many great victories and near misses. I've been witness to many different emotions from people in this building. This has been a special venue for Bemidji State, the community and the region. Win, lose or draw tonight ... won't change what a special place the John Glas Fieldhouse has been."
Among the fieldhouse events Quistgaard will always remember is Bucky Lescarbeau's goal with one second remaining in regulation which tied the 1986 NCAA II national tournament semifinal against RIT. The Beavers eventually won the game 5-4 in overtime on a goal by Mike Alexander and the next night captured the national crown with an 8-5 victory over Plattsburgh State.
"I was sitting behind the goal in the third row of the bleachers (in what is now the Beaver Pride Room) when we scored that goal with one second left," Quistgaard said. "That goal represented a tremendous life message. It tells you that you must never give up. Always keep pushing and grinding until the end."
As Quistgaard rode the Zamboni with Vance Balstad Friday night during the BSU-Niagara game, he had a chance to reflect on the facility and what was accomplished there.
"I saw hopes, dreams and aspirations come and go there throughout the years," Quistgaard said. "There were hockey games, graduations, concerts and shows. The John Glas Fieldhouse has served us well but now it is time to move onto a new era."
Gary Erickson, a long-time fan of Beaver hockey, agrees.
"Saturday was an historic night but it also was a sad occasion," Erickson said. "The John Glas was home to a ton of great teams and great players who created a ton of great memories. But it is like kicking the kids out of the house. It is sad to see them leave but you know they are moving to a newer place and a better place."
Sue and Steve Engel are among Bemidji State's most diehard fans. They haven't missed more than a handful of home games since the 1983-84 season and often travel to the road games as well.
"Steve and I have always been sports fans, and there is no better sport to watch than hockey," Sue said.
The Engels have taken the time to meet the players and the coaches and even make fudge for them whenever they have a home series.
Through the years, Sue has witnessed many dramatic events on the ice but among her top memories of the fieldhouse was something that occurred in the Beaver Pride Room.
"That was the day Jon Quistgaard (BSU president) challenged the people to raise $2.2 million to save Bemidji State hockey," Sue said. "That was a stressful day. But everyone worked together and did just that."
The reward for raising $2.2 milllion was on display Saturday as the John Glas Fieldhouse was filled to the rafters with energetic and noisy fans saluting another Bemidji State victory. The intimacy of the facility has fueled a program that ranks among the best in collegiate sports, and it may take time for that advantage to surface at the Bemidji Regional Event Center.
"I have mixed feelings about leaving the John Glas Fieldhouse," Sue said. "But in reality, we couldn't stay here because we wouldn't have been allowed to make the move to the WCHA. It is good for the program to move and I think it will also be good for Bemidji."
"It is sad to leave because of the tradition," said hockey fan Dennis Shanahan, "but the new rink is the real deal. It's going to be fun to watch games there."
"The BREC will be good for attracting more things to Bemidji, but I hope they have a good use for the John Glas," Nora Shanahan added. "I hope they have a plan for the hockey equipment that is here such as donating it to the youth hockey programs."