Weather Forecast


BEAVERS ROUNDUP: Fans will help name Minnesota hockey tournament

Fans of Bemidji State and the other four Division I hockey programs in Minnesota have a chance to add their own personality to the inaugural hockey tournament at Xcel Energy Center next year.

Officials at the five schools — BSU, Minnesota, St. Cloud State, Minnesota State-Mankato and Minnesota-Duluth — are allowing fans to name the tournament via social media, according to a press release.

Fans can submit names using Facebook and Twitter using the hashtag #MNCollegeHockey until June 28.

Entries will be collected and fans will then be able to vote on the five best entries until July 8. The fan vote will count for 25 percent of the vote and the winning name will be announced July 9.

The 2014 edition of the tournament will be held Jan. 24-25 at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul and will feature four of the five schools. Bemidji State is sitting out of this year’s edition.

Oakland headed to SMSU

Former Bemidji State women’s assistant basketball coach Abby Oakland has been named assistant coach at Southwest Minnesota State.

Oakland, who spent the last season as an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator for BSU head coach Mike Curfman, played for SMSU from 2005-09.

“Abby is a perfect fit for our team and the Mustang women’s basketball program,” SMSU head coach Allison Kruger said in a press release. “As an SMSU alum, Abby has a passion to be a Mustang and her desire to help this program become successful is incredible. She is an excellent recruiter and will do a great job coaching our guards. Her experience as a player and a coach in the NSIC will be invaluable and I can’t wait to start working with Abby.”

The Fulda native is a 2009 graduate of SMSU in sports management, while earning her master’s degree from Northern State in 2011 with a degree in education.

In addition to her year on the job at BSU she also spent a season as assistant women’s basketball coach and head junior varsity coach at Central College in Pella, Iowa. She began her coaching career in 2009 as a graduate assistant at Northern State.

Golf, softball adds recruits

Both the BSU softball and golf teams recently added recruits for their 2013-14 squads.

Beaver softball head coach Rick Supinski announced last week that Buffalo’s Emily Varner will join the 2014 softball team.

Varner, a left-handed utility player who can play outfield or first base, helped lead Buffalo to a 12-7 overall record this season with a .390 batting average, 23 hits and 15 RBIs.

Varner has been an all-conference and all-section player for the Bison and was selected as Buffalo High School’s Offensive MVP as well as the MVP of the Mississippi 8 Conference.

Varner is the seventh member to join the freshman class of 2014, including Bemidji High School star Jess Yost.

The women’s golf team also recently added another member of the squad for next season. BSU head golf coach Mark Bagaason announced the addition of Victoria Drake of Maplewood for the 2013-14 season.

Drake, along with Mary Elmquist of Elk River and Briana Jenniges of Wabasso, will comprise Bagaason’s 2013-14 freshman class.

Last spring Drake earned All-Classic Suburban Honorable Mention honors in addition to being voted as her team’s Most Valuable Player.

Jack Hittinger

Jack Hittinger is the sports editor of the Bemidji Pioneer. He is also the Bemidji State beat writer. He hails from the Great State of Michigan. Read his Bemidji State blog at and follow him on Twitter at @Jackhitts.

(218) 333-9772