Sunday, March 10, 2013

The Weekend in Review; slugging through the snow in the north country (Sanford Center)

Bemidji State Beavers women's ice hockey

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 involve UND.

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 forward.

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 opinion.

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.

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