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Is new arena Bemidji State’s ticket to WCHA?

Bemidji State’s new arena may be helpful on more than one front.Bemidji State’s new arena may be helpful on more than one front.  The 2008 Minnesota State legislature authorized $20 million for a regional events center that will include a new hockey arena that is scheduled to open in the fall of 2010. The 4,000 seat structure could lead to the men’s team joining the prestigious Western Collegeiate Hockey Association (WCHA).  So says Bob Mason, a former WCHA and NHL goalie who now is goalie coach for the NHL Minnesota Wild. Mason was in the northern Minensota town as part of a caravan promoting the Wild.

The Beavers’ current home, John Glas Fieldhouse, was perfectly acceptable as a NAIA and NCAA D-II facility but substandard as a D-I rink. Currently, the BSU women’s team plays in the WCHA but the men play in the much smaller College Hockey  America Conference. Since that league dropped to four schools when Wayne State (MI) dropped the sport, its life expectancy may be short.

The WCHA hasn’t said publicly how they feel about BSU as a possible member but rumors remain rampant that Alaska-Anchorage may leave the league soon. With its women’s team already a member, BSU would seem a natural to take the Seawolves’  place. The Beavers played six of the league’s schools last season in non-conference games.

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