Beavers’ winningest women’s hockey coach steps down after a 10-year career

Jim Scanlan had a 122-202-23 career record at Bemidji. PHOTO FROM BSUBEAVERS.COM

After a decade of work with Bemidji State University women’s hockey, Jim Scanlan announced on Monday, April 8, that it was time to step down as head coach.

Scanlan was hired as just the fifth head coach in Bemidji State women’s hockey history on June 17, 2014. Scanlan’s predecessor was Steve Sertich, who coached the Beaver women from 2006 to 2014. Scanlan is the program’s winningest head coach with 122 wins and is the lone bench boss in program history to reach 100 career wins.

“I have to thank Bemidji President Richard Hansen and Director of Athletics, Tracy Dill, for allowing me to coach for my alma mater. It was also a pleasure coaching in the great WCHA conference,” said Scanlin.

Scanlan was drawn to the coaching position from his connections to the campus.

“Well, I had a relationship with the campus for 40 or more years before that, I met my wife here, and both my kids went here. Our roots are deep in Bemidji, so when the opportunity came up it was a no-brainer to take the position. I was really fortunate,” said Scanlan.

Scanlan is a 1985 Bemidji State graduate and was a’ goaltender for the Beavers. Scanlan played for legendary BSU coach R.H. “Bob” Peters from 1978-1982. He was a four-year letter winner and captain who played 85 games in net, logging a career record of 62-19-0 while helping the Beavers to an NCHA regular-season title in 1982 and four consecutive trips to the NAIA national tournament, which included national titles in 1979 and 1980.

“Playing for Bob Peters was a great experience, he taught me so much,” said Scanlan.

Scanlan started his BSU coaching career in 2014-15, which ended in history. After the season Scanlan was named USCHO.com National Coach of the Year and WCHA Coach of the Year after the Beavers advanced to the WCHA Championship, upsetting Minnesota Duluth in the quarterfinals and Minnesota in the semifinals. It was Scanlan’s first season and the one he always thinks of as a highlight.

“My first year, we had a tough series with Duluth, beating them twice in the best of three. We won that first game and lost the second, but that third game is the one that sticks out. We were down late, ended up pulling the goalie, tied it, and won in overtime. That is a game I’ll always remember fondly.”

The 21-win 2014-15 season was a 10-win improvement from the previous season. The Beavers also had five wins over teams that finished in the top 10 nationally.

“Taking down those high-ranking teams helped show how good we can be. We had a program record No. 4 ranking in the USA Hockey Magazine National Poll,” said Scanlan.

The second season of Scanlan’s tenure was more of the same success with another record in wins and hosting the Stanford Center’s first-ever playoff game.

“We won a new program record 22 games and got our highest WCHA finish of third with a 17-9-2 league record. We had a great team.”

The next big moment for Scanlan during his coaching journey was in 2019, when the Beavers upset the UMD Bulldogs. The Beavers ended the season with a 16-19-3 record but in the first-round series of the WCHA playoffs, Bemidji State took down Duluth in three games.

Scanlan’s next shining moment during his decade of coaching for the Beavers came in 2019. He became the program’s winningest head coach during his fifth season. On February 8, 2019 the Beavers took down the ninth-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes inside the Stanford Center in Bemidji. The game was as unusual of a finish as a hockey game can be, and it was a unique way to earn the milestone win for Scanlan. The Buckeyes were tied with the Beavers late in the third period, when Buckeyes head coach, Nadine Muzerall decided to pull their goalie for the extra skater. A Bemidji State defenseman fired the puck from 200 feet away and it found the open net as the Beavers skated away with a 3-2 upset win, and a milestone win for not only Scanlan but the program as well.

“It was certainly one of my most memorable games because of the way it finished. Nadine needed to get a win to make the league tournament, so she took a chance, but we had a right-handed defender who fired it in the net. It was a crazy win, that’s for sure. I remember looking at the clock and thinking, I think that has a chance to go in.”

Scanlan’s sixth season was another achievement-filled season, as the Beavers bench boss celebrated his career 100th win.  On Feb. 29, 2020, they faced Minnesota-Duluth again in the WCHA playoffs. UMD won game one 2-1, but game two was that of the Beavers. The game was a four-overtime thriller that ended in a Beaver win, forcing a game three.

“I don’t remember who scored the goal before overtime, but I remember going up to the team and saying we have to wait for the Zamboni and every time the horn went, I had to say yep, back in the locker room,” said Scanlan. “It was such a fun game and crazy at the same time. Bri Jordi made a great play, getting it to Haley Mack who fed Reece Hunt who went bar down on Maddy Rooney. It was one of those games that I can remember some of the specifics, and it was my 100th win.

In his 10-year career with the Beavers, Scanlan has won 10 or more games in a season seven times. the most among any head coach at Bemidji State. He compiled a 122-202-23 career record at Bemidji, a record that may be skewed by the last couple of seasons. Over the past three years, Bemidji State women’s hockey has gone 18-66-6, finishing no higher than sixth in the WCHA. There has been a lot of challenges in college sports over the last few years, including a new transfer rule.

“The biggest difference is the transfer portal, it really changed the landscape of college hockey, both men’s and women’s,” said Scanlan. “The other thing is giving the fifth-year option, which has been a difference maker, and in Bemidji, we don’t have a big major program, so we lose a lot of fifth-year seniors.”

After the 2022-23 season, Bemidji lost six women’s hockey players to the portal, most of them went on to play for a different school in the WCHA.

“You see it every year now,” he said.”The bigger school seems to benefit from the transfer and makes it hard for a school like Bemidji.”

In his final season, the Beavers went 5-30-1, finishing eighth in the WCHA and losing to Ohio State in the quarterfinals 4-1 and 2-1.

Jim Scanlan.

Bemidji State Director of Athletics Britt Lauritsen named Amber Fryklund the sixth head coach in Bemidji State women’s program history. Fryklund has been with the BSU women’s hockey coaching staff for 10 seasons, four of them as associate head coach. She was brought back to BSU’s coaching staff this past season after a three-year teaching career as an Assistant Professor of Human Performance, Sport, and Health at BSU.

Amber Fryklund has served on the BSU women’s hockey coaching staff for 10 seasons including four as associate head coach. PHOTO FROM BSUBEAVERS.COM.