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Pioneer Editorial: Top-notch puck slate next winter

Things ought to be rockin' in the Glas next winter.

Bemidji State University late Wednesday night released its men's hockey schedule for the 2009-10 season, and it includes some premier clashes as the Bemidji State Beavers mark time until moving into the new Bemidji Regional Event Center in late 2010.

The Beavers, who excited fans earlier this spring with their first-ever Frozen Four appearance in Washington, D.C., will have a chance to avenge their 4-1 semi-final loss to Miami of Ohio in a return match Nov. 27 at Grand Forks, N.D., in the Subway Holiday Classic. The Beavers then on Nov. 28 play Ohio State for the first time in the school's history, also in the Holiday Classic.

Bemidji State, with its NCAA Division I hockey program, is seeking admission to the prestigious Western Collegiate Hockey Association. It will play the WCHA's top-ranked University of Minnesota Gophers in Minneapolis for two-game series Nov, 14-15. It's the first time for those two teams to meet since 2003.

And the Beavers will play a home and home series with another WCHA traditional opponent, the University of Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs on Jan. 22-23.

The Beavers will also play Northern Michigan for the first time and play Western Michigan. The season opens at home with an Oct. 9-10 series with Air Force, where coaching brothers Frank and Tom Serratore can hash out the Sibling Trophy.

In addition to a schedule with College Hockey America teams, the Beavers also play at Nebraska-0maha on Feb. 26-27, where former University of North Dakota Fighting Sioux coach Dean Blais has just been named head coach and a school that is being courted to join the WCHA with Bemidji State.

The high-caliber opposition not only is a testament to Bemidji State's prowess in Division I which continues to grow, but is also a strong sign of a growing successful program. Hopefully that program will see its future solidified later this summer with a 12-team WCHA that includes Bemidji State.

The new Bemidji Regional Event Center, while outfitted to become Bemidji's centerpiece for a variety of activities, will be the new home for Beaver hockey. Seeing the impressive slate on tap for next year -- with WCHA and Central Collegiate Hockey Association schools -- should enliven fans to wonder what the future will bring.

Such championship collegiate hockey will also bring fans to town, and enliven our merchants throughout the winter months, making it a win-win situation for the college, for hockey fans, for the business community and for the community at large.