ON TO THE FROZEN FOUR: Bemidji State Beavers defeat Cornell 4-1 to win Midwest Regional title
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- Bemidji State's magical run through the NCAA Midwest Regional continued Sunday as the Beavers advanced to the Frozen Four with a 4-1 decision over Cornell at Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids, Mich.
Three unanswered goals in third period capped the incredible run for the Beavers who become the first 16 seed in tournament history to advance to the Frozen Four since the field was expanded to 16 teams in 2002.
Bemidji State will next play West Regional winner Miami in the Frozen Four April 9 at 5 p.m. in Washington, D.C. Boston University and Vermont will play in the evening semifinal with the championship taking place Saturday, April 11.
"This is the program's 942nd win - BSU has won 13 national championships and 21 conference titles. "R.H. Peters called me after the game and said this ranks right up there with the 31-0-0 national championship season.
"There's something special about this program that you can't really know about unless you are in the locker room or are affiliated with Beaver hockey."
Entering the third period tied 1-1 the Beavers took control. Senior forward Tyler Scofield got what turned out to be the game winner at 4:05 of the third, taking a nice pass from Matt Read, striding up ice and scoring on a hard wrist shot low stick side past Cornell goalie Ben Scrivens.
"(Matt) Read kind sprung me and then I saw a defenseman dropping down. I just the shot go quick and it went in."
Bemidji State extended the lead to 3-1 about five minutes later. Freshman Ben Kinne raced to a loose puck along the far boards in the BSU zone. He gained control of the puck, fought past a Cornell defender and got off a quick shot that was stopped by Scrivens. BSU's Matt Francis was there to score off the rebound short side
Cornell pulled the goalie for an extra attacker with 3:47 remaining in the game. Scofield gathered in a pass from Read at the redline line and calmly lined a wrister in to the open net, providing some insurance It was Scofield's fourth goal of the tournament.
Later in the period Bemidji State goalie Matt Dalton stole the show with a spectacular glove save off a shot hard from Michael Kennedy from point blank range.
"It was battle," Dalton said after out-dueling one of the nation's top goaltenders in Scrivens for the second night in a row. "When (Scofield) scored that second goal I thought, 'Oh my gosh ...' I just knew that once we got up we would shut them down. The defense had been playing so well and the forwards were back checking like crazy."
Special teams were the story of the first period as Bemidji State killed three penalties and Cornell two. BSU killed near back to back minors at about the halfway point of the period.
Cornell had only one good opportunity on the three power play opportunities and just two shots. Colin Greening got off a quick backhand near the crease less than three minutes into the game, only to be stopped by Dalton.
The Beavers had two good chances, one on the power play. The first as a strong wrist shot from the point that surprised Scrivens a bit. The puck hit him in the chest and Scrivens left a rebound in front. BSU's Francis was close, but couldn't get a stick on it before the puck was swept away. Brandon Marino also had a chance from in close with four minutes remaining, but Scrivens made a sliding save.
The teams traded goals in the second period, both coming just over two minutes apart and both following a face off. Cornell scored first as defenseman Keir Ross got the puck on a face off play and shot a wrister that was tipped in front by Sean Collins past Dalton at 12:35.
It was the first deficit the Beavers had faced in the tournament and the question was how they would respond. "I was definitely nervous after they scored," Serratore said. "They were making it extremely hard to get to the net and tough for us to score."
Ultimately, BSU answered quickly. BSU defender Ryan Adams connected on a wrist shot from the top of the near circle after Scofield won a face off. Matt Read and Matt Francis created traffic in front and the puck slipped by the screened Scrivens at14:25. It was Adams' first career goal at BSU.
The Beavers held a 10-9 shot advantage in the period and had two additional chances to score. Shea Walters got off a good wrist shot at 4:30 with the Beavers on the power play that was saved by Scrivens. Ben Kinne also had a nice chance right before the Beaver goal.
Cornell also had chances in the period. Kennedy made a nice move inside past a BSU defender and got off a good shot from in close that was saved by Dalton. That led to a major scramble in front that generated three more Cornell shots. Dalton was able to stop them all, however.
Cornell held a 26-22 shot advantage for the game. Dalton got the win, making 25 saves. Scrivens had 17 on 20 shots faced.
"We believed," said Serratore. "That's what happens - you believe in your program and your team. We knew what we were up against, but we also believed. We really felt we could win this. We knew it was an uphill battle, I mean come on, who's kidding who?"
In the regional the Beavers defeated the second ranked team in the country in Notre Dame and then the ninth ranked team in Cornell. To be sure, an uphill battle.
Cornell coach Mike Schafer. "We put ourselves in position to advance to the Frozen Four," he said, "that's every team's dream. We had our opportunities but just couldn't convert. We talked about their top line and they ended up scoring three of the four goals, while our top line didn't score.
"I was really happy with how our guys played; they gave it their all. It just wasn't meant to be.
"Congratulations to BSU - the win was very well deserved."
NCAA Midwest Regional All Tournament team:
F - Tyler Scofield, BSU
F-Matt Read, BSU
F- Evan Barlow, Cornell
D-Brad Hunt, BSU
D-Ryan Adams, BSU
G-Matt Dalton, BSU
Most Valuable Player: