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Hockey Day is coming to Bemidji; 13th annual event set for winter 2019

Bollinger, Peters and Sertich promote hockey, BREC at Detroit Lakes caravan stop

Bemidji State University is at an all-time high in enrollment. The university is getting a new president. And Oct. 15, the men's hockey team will take on the University of North Dakota in its first Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) game.

"It's a very exciting time at Bemidji State. Unprecedented maybe is a better word," Rob Bollinger said. Bollinger serves as executive director for University advancement at the university.

Bollinger, former BSU men's coach Bob Peters, Athletic Director Rick Goeb and BSU women's coach Steve Sertich spoke about the hockey program and its new multi-million dollar facility at a joint Noon Rotary and Kiwanis meeting Thursday in Detroit Lakes.

The Bemidji Regional Event Center, which was funded with a state grant and a local sale tax, is located on 140 acres of land the city purchased on the south side of Lake Bemidji. The estimated $90.7 million project ended up costing $12 million less than anticipated. The facility isn't just for hockey, however.

The BREC will be used for concerts, other sporting events and a meeting facility. But it's the hockey arena portion that these men came to praise and promote Thursday.

"It's one of the nicest arenas in the country," Bollinger said.

There are 25 suites (the fourth largest number of college hockey suites in the country), 250 club seats, a lounge, 657 student-reserved seats and a $1.6 million scoreboard. It can hold 4,500 hockey fans on game night (and 6,000 for a concert).

"It's a beautiful building and unique, adding a lot to our community and of course our university," Bollinger said.

The rink is being named the Robert H. Peters Arena, after legendary coach Bob Peters.

Peters was head men's coach at BSU from 1967 to 2001. He retired with 744 wins, the fourth highest total for a collegiate men's hockey coach in the country.

"It's been a marvelous career for me," he said humbly on Thursday. "We had good luck, incredibly good luck."

He gave a brief history of the hockey program and of the Midwest Regional champs at the NCAA Frozen Four Tournament, defeating the likes of Notre Dame and Cornell, in 2009.

"I can be so bold as to say we gave them a good scrapping," Peters said with a smile.

But moving to the WCHA is "without a doubt the toughest division in the country."

"This is the toughest conference, no doubt about it," agreed Goeb.

The 25 suites have been sold for the season, but there are season tickets available yet. There will also be about 400-500 tickets held for single-game patrons.

There will not be single-game tickets available for the opening UND game though, only those with season tickets will get in. Bollinger said that is because the university has asked all former men and women BSU hockey players back for recognition and a chance to see the new facility.

And for those without tickets, the Beavers have struck a deal with Lakeland TV and will have each game broadcast on cable television.

With all the noise the men's team is making, the women's team shouldn't be forgotten either.

"We have something to show you, too," head coach Sertich said. "You'll be pleasantly surprised at the level of play."

Season tickets are on sale until mid-September and then sales open up for single-game tickets.

"This is a northern Minnesota team, and this is your team," Peters said.

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