This past weekend, I went to Bemidji to watch the Bemidji
State Beavers and the Minnesota Gophers play in a two game series at the
Sanford Center. This was the last time the Beavers and the Gophers would play
as members of the WCHA.
Obviously, most of us are aware of the upcoming
realignment so we won’t review that again.
With UND out of town and in Mankato, it was an
opportunity to go to another WCHA series within driving distant, that didn’t
I also hadn’t seen the Gophers live this season, so I
wanted to take a look, if you know what I mean.
I thought about driving to Mankato and watching UND and MSU,
but after looking at the road conditions on the internet, it appears that was a
good decision not to go.
The Sanford Center experienced its biggest crowd ever on
Saturday night, 4,415 fans showed up to watch UMN and BSU, and there were a lot
of Gophers jersey’s in the crowd.
Next season, UND fans are going to have to help the BSU
fans pack that place on January 17, 2014 when UND comes to town to play the BSU
Beavers in a non-conference tilt, to break that record.
I think this is what the City of Bemidji had in mind when
they built the Sanford Center, I was down town getting gas on Saturday and even
with all of the fresh snow, the downtown was hopping.
For me, this is the third series that I have been to at
the Sanford Center and in comparing some of the other rinks around the WCHA
that I have been to, the place is a nice facility.
While the Sanford Center might not have the “bells and
whistles” of the Ralph Engelstad Arena, not many places do, the Sanford Center
is an awesome facility and probably one of the best in the new WCHA going
Head coach Tom Serratore should be able to use the
Sanford Center to his advantage to land some good recruiting classes.
In 2010, I got take a tour of the facility and it’s got a
lot of things recruits look for when they look at hockey programs. I was very
impressed with the weight room.
I would say that the Sanford Center is definitely a
destination for college hockey fans. For those that are wondering, they serve
beer and Dunn Brother’s Coffee.
While no one will ever accuse me of being Marilyn
Hagerty, the Sanford Center’s cheese
burgers are phenomenal, and simply awesome and roughly about the same price as
the ones at the Ralph. Size wise, their burgers are actually bigger in my
The bag of popcorn was reasonably priced and too big to
consume in one sitting, I actually threw away about a third of it.
In comparing the Sanford Center to other arenas I have
been to, it’s better than the National Hockey Center pre-renovations and it’s
better than the old DECC or Amsoil Arena, in my opinion, to quote our favorite
radio announcer Bruce Ciskie, “apologies to those arenas.”
I am sure there will be those fans that disagree with me
on this, but hey, that’s just how I feel on the matter.
Gophers Get Past Beavers in Bemidji (insidehockey.com)
Gophers Ruin Beavers' Senior Night (insidehockey.com)