Peters: 'And the legendary green lives on'
In R.H. "Bob" Peters' first year as Bemidji State hockey head coach, the Beavers went 13-5-1, capturing the Intercollegiate Hockey Association co-championship.
The Beavers swept St. Cloud State University -- now a WCHA member -- with four wins that year, two of them shutouts. It was 1966-67, the season before the new $970,000 John Glas Fieldhouse expansion was added.
"It's a great day for hockey, isn't it?" Peters said Friday in an interview when asked how he felt after groundbreaking ceremonies were held on the Lake Bemidji south shore for the $46 million Bemidji Regional Event Center -- the Beavers' new hockey home starting in 2010.
Friday was also the day a rally was held for the current Bemidji State Beavers under coach Tom Serratore which heads this week for NCAA Frozen Four competition in Washington, D.C., with Miami of Ohio, Vermont and Boston University.
"To see this gathering here, the luncheon, and of course starting with the groundbreaking, it was very, very - to me -- a meaningful, prestigious event," Peters said.
The groundbreaking was followed by a celebratory lunch at the Hampton Inn & Suites with nearly 200 people in attendance.
"It's part of the good items that have been happening to us," he said. "The enthusiasm of the community and the university - it's been a long haul."
Peters retired from coaching the Beavers in 2001 after 34 seasons and a 702-293-49 record, good enough for a .704 winning percentage. Over the course of time, BSU saw 13 national championships at all levels - except one, NCAA Division I, which BSU joined 10 years ago.
Building program "is what President Bangsberg hired me to do back in '66," Peters said, referring to Harry Bangsberg, who was also key in having the John Glas Fieldhouse constructed.
"He had this dream. What you see today, including DI, is what he had in mind," Peters said. Bangsberg said that "hockey is part of our culture. And we should have it for our students and our people to watch, etc."
Even back then, Peters remembers, "he talked about someday we'll play in Division I. Of course, I would have gone like that to believe it," he added, shaking his head.
"The torch has been passed, and well passed," Peters said of his successor, Tom Serratore, a former Bemidji State hockey player. "It's critical, I thought, that a coach who played here could come in and understood the program -- where we started, how we got to where we were, all the sacrifices that had to be made."