Beavers to play in first U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame game
Friday, October 10, 2008
BEMIDJI, Minn. - Men’s collegiate ice hockey has celebrated the United States Hockey Hall of Fame since its creation in 1972 by playing an annual Hockey Hall of Fame game.

The game began in 1973 with all proceeds going back to the Hall and was originally played in Eveleth, Minn., the home of the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame. After a few years the game was moved to larger venues such as Xcel Energy Center and Ralph Engelstad Arena, which is where it was played last season.

Denver University will play host to the University of Notre Dame in this years’ U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame Game Oct. 11 at 7:07 p.m. in Denver, Colo. The four newcomers to the hall - Cammi Granato, Brett Hull, Brian Leetch and Mike Richter - made a special presentation during Thursday’s National Hockey League game between the Colorado Avalanche and the Boston Bruins.

The U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame Game will return to the original site of the game in Eveleth this season, but for the first time in history it will be the women’s side of collegiate ice hockey that will be celebrating this soon-to-be annual tradition.

Bemidji State University will be the home team at the Hippodrome in Eveleth and will play the No. 2-ranked Wisconsin Badgers. The game will take place Oct. 18 and the puck will drop at 6:07 p.m.

Both head coaches are extremely familiar with the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame in his own right.

BSU coach Steve Sertich played for Team USA against the University of Minnesota in 1975 in the third-annual Hall of Fame game that was held in Eveleth. UW coach Mark Johnson was inducted into the Hall in 2004, and he was also inducted in ‘03 as a member of the 1980 Olympic team that won gold in the fabled Lake Placid Winter Olympics. Johnson father, Badger Bob, was also inducted into the Hall in 1991.

Sertich is on the board of directors at the Hall, and was part of the group that decided it would be a great thing for college hockey if the women began playing a Hall of Fame game.

“Somebody asked ‘Why don’t we look at doing a women’s game’, and so we got together to see if we could do it,” Sertich said. “That’s part of the reason why Bemidji State will be playing in the first one.

“Hopefully this game can build to something in the future and we can build interest in our sport and people will come enjoy the game. It’s going to be a lot of fun to have it at the original site at the Eveleth Hippodrome, which could be called the Cooperstown of American Hockey.”

Not only is the first women’s U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame Game significant due to the historical aspects, but it will also be important because it is a Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) league game, and both teams will be looking to add points to their conference standings. The last time Bemidji State played Wisconsin as the host team, Nov. 24, 2007, the game was a thriller that ended in a 0-0 tie.

Sertich said this game will also be important in the eyes of local fans because some of Wisconsin’s players have a good shot at being on the next Olympic team, and because BSU has players from around the Northern Minnesota area - such as Emily Erickson (Fr., Coleraine, Minn.) and Montana Vichorek (Fr., Moose Lake, Minn.) - that will give the game a home-town feel.

“This game is hopefully going to not only promote BSU hockey but women’s hockey in general,” Sertich said. “Women’s hockey has been around for 10 years, and anytime people get a chance to see our teams play, it’s a good thing for our sport. The fans that come to the game will be impressed with the skill level that’s out there on the women’s side.”

Bemidji State will first get a crack at Northeastern this Friday and Saturday at 7:07 p.m. and 3:07 p.m., respectively, as the Beavers play their first home games of the young season. After the series with the Huskies, BSU will play Wisconsin at John Glas Fieldhouse Oct. 17 at 7:07 p.m. before tangling with the Badgers in Eveleth on Oct. 18.