When Bemidji State University opened up the 4,700 seat Sanford Center, it was a much needed upgrade for a program on the rise. At the time of the arena's groundbreaking in 2009, Bemidji State was in the transition of leaving the drowning CHA for the WCHA.
The new facility which cost $35 million dollars and opened in the fall of 2010 has kept the Beaver hockey program not only afloat, but has helped them in the cut throat world of college hockey recruiting.
The Sanford Center chalked up another victory on Sunday, when Jason Ford gave his commitment to the Beaver coaching staff.
Ford, a forward for the Janesville Jets in the North American Hockey League noted that he fell in love right away with the total package in Bemidji.
"I had a chance to see all their facilities, and they are second to none," Ford told Western College Hockey on Monday night.
"I just liked everything they offer, and the coaching staff. They have a great program overall. I liked the town and the University. I think overall it's a great fit."
Ford currently leads the Jets in goals scored, and total points (9G, 6A, 15 Pts) through the first 16 games of the NAHL season. Ford is 10th in the NAHL in goals, and 18th in scoring.
The Waunakee, Wisc. native has scored no matter where he has played. Last year as a senior at Waunakee high school, Ford led the state of Wisconsin in scoring with 103 points (52G, 51A) in just 27 games.
A two-time captain at Waunakee, Ford also boasted a 3.67 GPA in high school, and was a member of the National Honor Society.
A 6'0, 180 pound forward, Ford said that he talked with five or six other schools, and also took an official visit to Air Force before choosing the Beavers.
At this point it hasn't been decided what year Ford will come to Bemidji.
College hockey runs in the Ford family. His father Pat played four seasons at Wisconsin before eventually becoming an assistant coach for the Badgers.
Ford's younger brother Keegan will follow his fathers path, as he committed to play for the Badgers in early September. Keegan is a defenseman for the Dubuque Fighting Saints of the USHL, who also own Jason's rights.
Ford noted that it's special that both he and his brother have the opportunity to continue playing high level hockey at the college level.
"It's awesome. We have both worked really hard, and it's great to see it pay off," Ford said.
"It's exciting for us both to be able to play at this high of a level."
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