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Nagle's memory lives on in golf tournament

On March 18, 1984 the Bemidji State University men's hockey team was hosting Merrimack in the second game of the NCAA Division II national championship series.

BSU had taken the first game 6-3 and the entire community was buzzing with the excitement that accompanies a potential national title. In addition to a possible championship, the Beavers also were one game away from posting what many hockey experts thought was impossible: an unbeaten, untied campaign.

Heading into the rematch Bemidji State sported a 30-0-0 record. With a national title and an unblemished record on the line, the eyes of the hockey world were riveted on BSU vs. Merrimack.

Coach Bob Peters understood the importance of the game and in that must-win situation he had his choice of two talented goalies: junior Mark Liska and senior Galen Nagle.

Liska, who would earn All-America honors in 1983, 1984 and 1985, had stopped Merrimack 6-3 the previous night and no one would argue his selection in net for the final game.

Peters, however, opted for the senior and Nagle did not disappoint. His 8-1 victory in the national title game not only preserved BSU's unbeaten season and guaranteed the national crown, it capped a glorious personal career which saw Nagle post a 22-0-0 record as a Beaver goalie.

"You always knew when Galen was in the net that you were going to get his best effort," said Bob Fitzgerald who was a forward on that memorable team.

Current Beaver coach Tom Serratore remembers Nagle, not only for his on-ice contributions but also for what he accomplished off the ice.

"Galen epitomized what Beaver hockey is all about," Serratore said. "Galen was a walk-on to the hockey program but he made the team by working hard and never complaining. During his senior year Galen finally got his opportunity and he truly deserved the right to play in that national championship game.

"Galen earned the respect of everyone for how he handled what he went through and how he battled," Serratore continued. "Galen was always positive and upbeat. He was a wonderful guy and anyone who knew him became a better person."

Nagle's off-ice battle was against cancer. There were times everyone, including Nagle, thought that the battle had been won. In the end, however, Nagle lost the battle in 1996 at the age of 34.

"Galen's legacy keeps going," Serratore said. "When we talk about Beaver hockey we are talking about Galen."

Among the ways the BSU hockey program continues to reap the benefits of Nagle's influence is the annual Galen Nagle Memorial Golf Tournament. The 13th edition is July 16 at the Bemidji Town & Country Club and everyone is welcome.

Sponsored by Sanford-MeritCare, the tournament is designed to generate money for the Galen Nagle Endowment Fund and the BSU men's hockey program.

"Registrations are going well," said Jake Bluhm who is the Beaver Pride coordinator. "But there still is time to register."

The tournament format includes five-person teams which will play a scramble. The teams can choose to tee off at 7:35 a.m. or 12:35 a.m. and golfers may register as a team or as an individual.

In the latter case, tournament committee members will assign the golfer to a team.

Each fivesome will be given a handicap and those figures will be used to determine the team's tournament score.

The $100 entry fee includes 18 holes of scramble golf, dinner, beer and brats on the course, the opportunity to win door prizes and team prizes plus the chance to win prizes for closest to the pin, long drive, long putt and a hole-in-one.

Many BSU hockey alumni make this tournament an annual event but everyone is invited to play.

"This tournament attracts great people and that's what makes it so much fun," Serratore said. "It's never been designed as strictly an alumni event although many former Beavers play in it. The Nagle is all about people who have a passion for Beaver hockey. It gives people the chance to be part of the program and stay connected to what is happening with Beaver hockey."

People who can't make it for the golf are still welcome to participate in the live auction beginning after the 6:30 p.m. dinner.

A wide variety of items will be for sale and the list will include something for everyone.

"Galen represented the epitome of what Beaver hockey stands for," Fitzgerald said. "He would do anything for anybody and this tournament is one way we can continue that philosophy."

To register or for more information call the BSU Foundation at 755-2294 or 1-888-234-5718.

Registrations also can be made on-line through the BSU Foundation website by clicking on "alumni" and "events."

Pat Miller

Pat Miller is the sports editor at the Pioneer.

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