Miami knocks Bemidji State out of Frozen Four
WASHINGTON - The clocks in the Verizon Center read 7:30 p.m. when the game ended, but midnight would have been more appropriate.
Bemidji State's Cinderella run is over.
A bigger, stronger and better Miami team came to the nation's capital and finally took out the underdog Beavers 4-1 to earn a trip to Saturday's national championship game.
Although the Beavers will head home early on a charter flight this morning, it was hard for them to be too disappointed on Thursday night. Not when, two weeks ago, they were heading in to overtime against Robert Morris in the College Hockey America championship, one goal away from disappearing quietly into the offseason.
Instead, the Beavers earned their trip to the NCAA tournament, wiped out No. 1 seed Notre Dame and Cornell, became the first No. 16 overall seed to make the Frozen Four and saw their names in nearly every major newspaper in the country.
"Can't ask for much more," senior forward Tyler Scofield said. "It's been a great run."
"The time of a lifetime," senior defenseman Cody Bostock said. "Something I'll never forget."
Bemidji State (20-16-1) may have been out of magic by the time the Frozen Four started.
It certainly didn't have any answer for Miami's Tommy Wingels, who had two goals, one assist, five shots on goal and a plus-three rating. He was the No. 1 star of the game.
The Beavers never got going offensively, either. Miami freshman Cody Reichard stopped 24 of 25 shots, only allowing a power-play goal that was set up by a fortunate bounce.
"We got beat by a better team tonight," Bemidji State coach Tom Serratore said. "They were quick. They reacted well. Every facet of their game was very good and we couldn't get on track. We couldn't get going. We had a hard time sustaining any kind of pressure. We weren't getting pucks deep. For what reason? I can't put a finger on it."
One key stat jumped out at Serratore after the game: turnovers.
He said Bemidji State had less than 25 turnovers two weekends ago at the Midwest Regional. After two periods on Thursday, Serratore counted 24.
"I don't know what we finished with, but when we can't get pucks deep and you're turning pucks over, you have a hard time getting into a rhythm," Serratore said.
The Beavers had a vocal backing in Verizon Center and it wasn't just the two sections of green and white in the corner. Fans whose favorite team didn't make the Frozen Four all seemed to adopt the Beavers as their choice.
They only had one chance to cheer, though. Top-line forward Matt Read scored a power-play goal midway through the second to cut Miami's lead to one, but just 60 seconds later, Bill Loupee put the Redhawks ahead by two again.
Miami sat back the rest of the way and made it difficult for Bemidji State to get scoring chances. In the last 27 minutes of the game, the Beavers didn't get one Grade-A scoring opportunity.
"That's the way we play," Miami coach Enrico Blasi said. "We're a physical team. And when we're on, we're finishing checks and we're doing a good job defensively and getting the puck deep. And we're a good puck possession team, which again, if we're on, wears teams down. Thankfully, that happened tonight."
Miami also got key contributions from unusual sources. Its second goal of the game, and the eventual game-winner, came from Alden Hirschfeld. It was his fifth of the season. Loupee's goal was just his third.
"We try to execute our game plan, and if you're in position where you can score a goal, then obviously we want you to score a goal," Blasi said. "We have guys that score goals and we know they are going to be checked tightly. We know that guys like Loupee and Hirschfeld will have to come up big for us. Maybe next game it's somebody else. At this time of year, nobody really cares who scores the goals."
For the Beavers, there weren't enough guys scoring goals and their season is over. But they have racked up plenty of memories and new fans on the wild journey to Washington.
"It's a feel-good story for a lot of people out there," Bostock said. "It's something special to be a part of. We want to thank everyone out there. Unfortunately, tonight, we came up on the wrong end. But it's been a good run."