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Summer reunion: BSU men’s hockey alums return for Galen Nagle golf tournament

Former BSU golfer Jim Foss tees off on hole No. 1 Friday during the Galen Nagle Memorial Golf Tournament at Bemidji Town and Country Club. (Austin Monteith | Bemidji Pioneer)1 / 3
Ben Wangberg, of Bemidji, sinks a putt on hole No. 18 Friday during the Galen Nagle Memorial Golf Tournament at Bemidji Town and Country Club. (Austin Monteith | Bemidji Pioneer)2 / 3
Golfers set off in their carts at the Galen Nagle Memorial Golf Tournament as BSU men's hockey head coach Tom Serratore points them in the right direction Friday at Bemidji Town and Country Club. (Austin Monteith | Bemidji Pioneer)3 / 3

BEMIDJI -- Nothing can keep Joel Otto from returning to Bemidji each summer. He never misses the Galen Nagle Memorial Golf Tournament, which celebrated its 21st edition Friday at Bemidji Town and Country Club.

“I try to make sure I’m here every year,” said the former Calgary Flame and Stanley Cup champion. “... I’ve been to every one of them, and plan on doing that in the future.”

The charity tournament is held each July with the proceeds benefiting the Bemidji State men’s hockey program and the endowment fund created in honor of Nagle, the former goalie who backstopped the Beavers to an undefeated 31-0-0 season and the 1984 NCAA Division II national championship.

Nagle died in 1996 at the age of 34 after a battle with cancer, but since 1998, former teammates and others from the BSU community play in his honor each summer.

“We were the same class so I was here with Galen for four years at Bemidji,” said Otto, a senior on the ‘84 championship team. “We always miss him. We tell a story or two, always, about Galen with the gang. It’s just fun to reminisce with everybody, talk about that and raise some money as well for the school and the hockey program.”

Otto had the chance to catch up with former teammate and current BSU women’s hockey head coach Jim Scanlan prior to their tee times. Scanlan played between the pipes for the Beavers, just as Nagle did, and was a senior when Nagle was a freshman.

“I just remember a young guy out of Bemidji High School who was just tall and gangly,” Scanlan recalled of Nagle. “The guys would come over the blue line, they’d fake a shot and he’d drop to his knees. But he just worked and worked. He started playing hacky sack, believe it or not, and he played it continuously. And it just improved his foot-eye coordination, and his hand-eye coordination improved. Obviously, he went on to have an unbelievable career.”

“Galen was the epitome of Beaver hockey,” BSU men’s hockey head coach Tom Serratore said. “He was a guy who worked so hard. He was an overachiever. He stuck with it…. He’s that guy you want all your players to be like.”

In the 20 years since its establishment, the tournament has become a summer staple for the program. This year 175 golfers, including 52 alumni, took part.

“It’s a celebration of Beaver hockey in the summer,” Serratore said. “It’s great to have all our alumni come back. A bunch of our fans are golfing. I always look at it as a celebration of hockey.

“...To me you’re kicking off Beaver hockey mid-summer, and after the Galen Nagle, summer kind of cruises pretty fast, and in no time we’re going to be playing hockey again.”

Bemidji State will open the 2018-19 regular season Oct. 12 at home against North Dakota.

And then a year from now, the BSU hockey community will gather once more for another reunion. The reason is simple.

“It’s family and that’s why we come back,” Otto said.

Austin Monteith

Austin Monteith is a sports reporter for the Bemidji Pioneer. He is an Illinois native and a Butler University graduate. Follow him on Twitter @amonteith92.

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