During the pre-game chat to his team prior to the final game of the 1983-84 season, Bemidji State University hockey coach Bob Peters highlighted his seniors and talked at length about how each senior earned the right to play at the John Glas Fieldhouse for the NCAA II national title.
BSU had defeated Merrimack 6-3 the previous evening and needed one more victory over the same team to cap a perfect 31-0-0 campaign and claim the national title.
"I'll always remember that speech," 1983-84 co-captain Joel Otto said. "The song 'Memories' was playing in the background and coach spent time remembering every senior. That speech was something very special. When we hit the ice that night Merrimack didn't stand a chance."
For the record, the Beavers destroyed Merrimack 8-1.
Otto returned to Bemidji this weekend and was one of the dignitaries assembled for the official closing of the John Glas Fieldhouse. Otto also had to prepare a speech of his own on Saturday as he was inducted into the BSU Athletic Hall of Fame.
During his Beaver career, Otto collected 89 goals and 204 points. As a senior, he had 32 goals and 75 points, numbers which were rewarded by his selection as the 1983-84 NCAA II Hobey Baker Award winner.
"I am absolutely amazed that things worked out so well for me," said the soft-spoken center whose No. 24 jersey joins Bryan Grand's No. 10 as the only retired Beaver hockey numbers.
"I've been very lucky. I was put into a program that develops hockey players. I was lucky to be on an exceptional team with exceptional teammates. I was lucky to have the teaching, coaching and teammates that allowed me to continue playing at the next level."
The next level for Otto was the National Hockey League where he played for the Calgary Flames (1984-95) and the Philadelphia Flyers (1985-98). His professsional resume includes 195 goals and 313 assists in 943 games and his name engraved on Lord Stanley's Cup. Otto accomplished that feat while a member of the Flames in 1989.
Hailing from Elk River and currently living with his family in Calgary, Otto helped create many of the special memories of the John Glas Fieldhouse. At the top of his personal list is the speech and the series against Merrimack.
"The John Glas Fieldhouse is a special place," Otto said prior to Saturday's Bemidji State-Niagara contest, "and being here this weekend and seeing all the alumni has been a blast. I enjoy coming back as often as I can. Bemidji, BSU and the John Glas Fieldhouse will always be special to me."