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Bemidji St women's hockey: Beavers host Toronto Jr. Aeros for Friday exhibition

Erin Cody and the Bemidji State women's hockey team hosts the Toronto Jr. Aeros tonight. Pioneer File Photo/Eric Stromgren

The Bemidji State women's hockey team will open its season tonight with a home exhibition game against the Toronto Jr. Aeros.

With the finishing touches being put on their new home at the Bemidji Regional Event Center, the game will be played at Neilson-Reise Arena. Game time is 7 p.m. and admission is free.

It will be BSU's first game after a week of two-a-day practices.

"It's been your pretty typical first week back," Bemidji State head coach Steve Sertich said. "Most of our team came back in good shape from the summer, but there's nothing like skating and getting back into that game shape. I know they are all excited to get out there and play their first game."

The Beavers will face the Aeros, a team of high-school aged players with graduation years from 2011-13. Because Canada does not have a widely sponsored high-school system for girls, aspiring players looking to play beyond age 18 join different junior programs across the country.

Most hope to play collegiate hockey and some go on to play on national teams.

The Junior Aeros play from September to potentially April and will have played nine games by Friday night's exhibition. The exhibition is part of a four-game Canada/USA tour for the club that includes games against the University of Manitoba and North Dakota.

"It's really a win-win for both groups," Sertich said. "We get to see these players in a game situation and we'll take the group over to tour the BREC."

Bemidji State will not play at the BREC until the weekend of Oct. 15-16 against Mercyhurst.

Sertich said the BSU players are excited to check out their new home on the south shore.

"Only a few of the players have been over there to see then new locker room, but everyone has heard about it," Sertich said. "We'll be ready to get over there in a few weeks."

Before the official regular season home opener, BSU will play road series at Wayne State and Wisconsin.

Bemidji State is coming off a 12-19-7 (9-12-7-3 WCHA) season. It was a season that ended on a positive note as BSU won its first playoff series in program history and advanced to the WCHA Final Face-Off.

Sertich was named the WCHA Coach of the Year and Slovakian Olympic goalie Zuzana Tomcikova was named the WCHA Co-Player of the Year.

She will be back in net this year for her junior season.

BSU will also return back the top four scorers from last season in forwards Erin Cody, Annie Bauerfeld, Erin Johnson and defenseman Montana Vichorek.

The WCHA Preseason Coaches Poll was released Thursday and BSU was picked to finish sixth in the eight team conference.

Defending national champion Minnesota-Duluth was picked to win the regular season title this year.