Bemidji and VenuWorks honor hockey icon with naming of new rink
Monday, May 17, 2010
Bemidji and VenuWorks honor hockey icon with naming of new rink
BEMIDJI, Minn. -- When the Bemidji Regional Event Center opens its doors for a pair of Bemidji State University ice hockey games Oct. 15, 2010, the heart of the complex--the hockey rink portion of the facility--will be called the Robert H. Peters Rink, in recognition of the legendary coach’s significant contributions to the game of hockey.

Upon the recommendation of Bob LeBarron, Bemidji Regional Event Center Executive Director, with the unanimous support of the Bemidji Regional Events Center Advisory Board and Bemidji State University, the Bemidji City Council unanimously approved the naming of the facility Monday at its regularly scheduled meeting.

“The ‘Robert H. Peters Rink at the Bemidji Regional Event Center’ would stand as a fitting tribute to the significance that Coach Peters has had in the City of Bemidji and for Bemidji State University.  His contributions as a whole cannot be overstated,” stated LeBarron in his recommendation.  

In 1966 R.H. “Bob” Peters took the reins of a Bemidji State men’s hockey program in its infancy and developed it into one of the great dynasties in all of collegiate athletics.  Within two seasons, Peters’ team garnered BSU’s first NAIA national championship.  Thirty-five years later he retired from coaching after directing the Beavers to 13 small college national titles, including a still-standing NCAA record for wins in an undefeated season (31-0-0) in 1984, and 17 conference crowns, while becoming the first coach to amass more than 700 wins at a single institution.  

During his tenure, 54 players were honored with 80 All-America awards, four players moved on to play in the National Hockey League (NHL) and five players represented their countries on Olympic hockey teams. Moreover, countless former Bemidji State hockey players have gone on to coach at nearly every level, making the 2001 Hobey Baker Legend of Hockey Award winner’s influence on the game of hockey virtually immeasurable.

Peters’ career footprint also has stretched outside the arena. He demonstrated his administrative skills at Bemidji State by serving as athletic director in addition to its head hockey coach, and he lent service to several committees. Under Peters’ guidance, BSU hockey progressed from NAIA to NCAA Division III to NCAA Division II, and in 1999, the institution elevated its hockey program to NCAA Division I.

Peters continues to provide support to the Bemidji State athletic department by remaining with the University in an outreach role with the BSU Foundation and was integral to the men’s hockey program’s move to the elite Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) and the Bemidji Regional Event Center.  Peters has also demonstrated continuing dedication to the City of Bemidji through his work with “Bemidji Leads” and support of such organizations as the Boys and Girls Club of the Bemidji Area.

The Bemidji Regional Event Center is a $60 million multi-purpose facility located on the south shore of Lake Bemidji that will serve as the home to Bemidji State hockey.  Within the 185,00 square-foot convention center facility, featuring an arena with more than 4,000 seats in addition to 25 private luxury suites and a first-class club room area, is the 32,200 square-foot hockey-specific area.  This new home of BSU hockey  includes: a 200’ x 85’ ice sheet, BSU hockey coaches and support staff offices and meeting rooms, athletic training room facilities, state-of-the-art locker rooms as well as a weight room and training facility.  
In addition to hockey, the Bemidji Regional Event Center will be the site of numerous community events and trade shows.  The versatile facility has been designed to house everything from small business meetings; to large banquets or public speeches with room for visitors to browse up to 160 booths; or exciting live entertainment with a number of different seating options to host events as martial arts, wrestling or concerts.

The Beavers, who finished 23-10-4 overall and 14-3-1 in CHA play to garner their fifth conference regular-season crown in the last seven years, wrapped up the 2009-10 campaign with a loss to University of Michigan in the Midwest Regional semifinal contest, marking its fourth trip to the NCAA Division I Tournament since 2005.   

The 2010-11 season will be a landmark year for Bemidji State.  In addition to the program finding a new conference home in the WCHA, the Beavers also pack their bags for a moving from the John S. Glas Fieldhouse, that has served as the hockey home of the Beavers since 1967, to the state-of-the-art Bemidji Regional Event Center.  

BSU is set to break the seal on the new venue Oct. 15-16 when its women host Mercyhurst College in a nonconference series and its men welcome WCHA-foe University of North Dakota.  The women are set to play at 2:07 p.m. each afternoon with the men to follow at 7:37 p.m. Friday and 7:07 p.m. Saturday.