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WOMEN'S HOCKEY: EGF's Scanlan announced as Bemidji State head coach

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By Jack Hittinger

BEMIDJI — Jim Scanlan’s Bemidji State connections run deep. Familial, even.

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Scanlan, 54, played goaltender for the Beaver hockey team from 1978-1982. His Beaver teams won the NAIA national championship twice and Scanlan was named an All-American twice playing for head coach R.H. “Bob” Peters.

He met his wife Cyndy while they were students at BSU, and two of his three children attended BSU.

So it only makes sense that Scanlan, who for the past 18 years has been a coach and administrator at East Grand Forks Senior High, would choose Bemidji State as the place to get back into coaching at the collegiate level.

The school announced Tuesday that Scanlan would take control of the BSU women’s hockey team as the fifth head coach in program history.

“As all of you know it’s an incredible place and had a big impact on my life,” Scanlan said Tuesday at a press conference announcing his hiring. “To have the opportunity to come back here to Bemidji State University and work here to help the young ladies on the hockey team reach their dreams, achieve their goals and become the best they can be is too great an opportunity to pass up.”

Scanlan takes over for Steve Sertich, who retired at the end of the 2013-14 season.

BSU athletic director Tracy Dill called Scanlan the “right choice for BSU” — and not just because of his Bemidji connections.

“All four candidates were great candidates,” he said. “He’ll represent BSU with extreme integrity, he cares deeply about student-athletes and most importantly has immense pride and passion for BSU.”

At Tuesday’s press conference it was clear that Scanlan never forgot his Bemidji roots. His family sat in the front row, most of them wearing green. And it seemed that Scanlan  knew just about everybody in the room, running down and thanking a long list of people associated with the school, the program and also East Grand Forks during the press conference.

Scanlan has a long list of accolades at the high school level: His hockey teams have twice been Class A runners-up (one on the boys side, one on the girls side) and he was named Class A coach of the year in 2014 after leading the Senior High girls to the title game.

“Coach (Bob) Peters started out his coaching career at East Grand Forks Senior High School in 1960-61,” Scanlan said. “I followed coach Peters there and it is my privilege to follow him here. If I could have even 1/13th of the success he’s had as head coach at BSU, I’ll be happy.

“I wouldn’t be sitting here today without his guidance, his influence, his mentorship.”

Scanlan also credited his high school teams with restoring his passion for the game.

“I want to single out the girls on the hockey team, particularly this last year,” he said. “Their passion and dedication really brought my passion and dedication back. I know I wouldn’t be sitting here without what they did for me.”

Although Scanlan has coached at the collegiate level — he was a graduate assistant at Northern Michigan in 1984-85, an assistant at Western Michigan from 1985-89 and coached at North Dakota from 1989-96 — he doesn’t have any experience coaching college women.

However, he thinks his experience coaching high school girls will prepare him for the head job at BSU.

“I don’t think the hockey changes . . . hockey’s hockey,” he said. “It’s going to be the same at whatever level you’re playing at. I think when the girls all realize that your relationship with them is based on who they are as people and not what they’re doing on the ice, that’s a big breakthrough. When you get a whole team feeling that way you can make some special things happen.”

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Sarah Smith is the outdoors editor. She covers Hubbard County, courts and breaking news.

(218) 732-3364
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