BEMIDJI - By now, the Galen Nagle Memorial Golf Tournament is a now a Bemidji State hockey staple. Many former Beaver hockey players, as well as area hockey fans, have been playing in the tournament named for the late BSU goaltender since its inception 15 years ago.
It's an event that brings alumni together - even ones who are making their first appearance at the alumni event that supports the hockey program.
"This tournament is just a great time for all the eras of the alumni to reconnect," BSU head coach Tom Serratore said. "It's also a great reunion for guys in their own peer group. It's very difficult for guys to get back in the winter, with jobs, family and other activities. So it's nice to come back in the summer and get together."
You could say Matt Read was pretty busy with his job this winter.
The former Beaver forward and current Philadelphia Flyer hadn't been back to Bemidji since his breakout rookie season for the Philadelphia Flyers.
"It's good to be around old teammates and old friends and talk about stories," Read said. "Just going to school here, and talking about hockey games. It's a lot of fun."
For many of the younger players, getting a chance to meet and mingle with the older alumni - guys like Joel Otto, Terry Burns and Drey Bradley - made it well worth the trip back.
"When you play you meet a lot of alumni, but when you come back here it's kinda different now that you're an alumnus," Read said. "It's neat to come back and enjoy everyone's company."
For Tyler Schofield, the Nagle tournament might be the last chance he has to see his former teammates and friends for a few months. In fact, it may be the last chance he has to see North America.
The right wing played for the Beavers from 2005-09 and now plies his trade for Klagenfurt AC in the Austrian Hockey League.
"I come back every year," Schofield said. "It's great to come back and see everyone you don't get to see. Especially for me."
The fact that Schofield - who has played overseas for three years - returns to Bemidji specifically for this week is indicative of just what the tournament means to Bemidji State hockey.
"They know who Galen is, and they realize that he was a special guy, it's a special tournament because of a special person who graduated from BSU," Serratore said.
That fact wasn't lost on Andrew Murray.
The 2005 graduate just signed a one-year, two-way contract with the St. Louis Blues after playing in San Jose last season. He's always glad to come back and support Bemidji State.
"It's something I'm really proud of," he said. "It's nice to come back and see everybody when I'm here. I get to see the coaching staff that I played with and talk to some of the guys, some people that live up here.
"I think a lot of us mark this on our calendar for quite a while in advance. We really look forward to seeing everybody. Part of this great program is the alumni, and to get everyone together is awesome."
It's all part of the fraternity - those who have worn the Beaver jersey are proud to represent the community and the school. As the BSU slogan says, "Tradition Never Graduates."
"Representing Bemidji is an honor," Read said. "I know I've watched a couple games on tape, and they talk about 'Matt Read from Bemidji State.' It's cool to hear that.
"A lot of my teammates say stuff like, 'Where the heck is Bemidji?' They poke fun at it a bit and ask if we're a division two school sometimes, but it's all in fun," he added. "They're all happy for me that I come from such a small school. For me, it's an honor to be a BSU Beaver and put us on the map."