The Cinderella run ended Thursday night when Bemidji State was ousted from the NCAA Division I hockey tournament.
Now, wait a minute. BSU might have lost 4-1 to Miami University of Ohio, but it wasn't any first-round NCAA game. It was the Frozen Four, the pinnacle of college hockey in America, the top four teams in the nation in Division I college hockey.
We had high hopes and expectations for the Beavers, and for all intent and purposes, those hopes and expectations were fulfilled.
They blew by the NCAA Midwest Regionals, surprising Notre Dame and Cornell along the way. They weren't expected to win their first game, let alone get into the Frozen Four, the first 16th seed to do so. But then again, coach Tom Serratore knew something those outside of Bemidji didn't know -- the Beavers belonged there. They worked hard and played top-notch Division I opponents along the way, such as North Dakota and Minnesota-Duluth.
Coach Serratore will tell you the Beavers were not a Cinderella team, they had paid their dues and earned their way to the Frozen Four goal by goal, game by game, save by save.
No, the Bemidji State Beavers didn't win their game Thursday night. But they provided much more than just another hockey game. They served as ambassadors of the Bemidji community, spreading the word of our lakes and streams and woods and quality of life far and wide -- gaining the attention of the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and on and on.
The lead in today's Associated Press account states, "Where's Bemidji? That's so yesterday." We strongly disagree. It's rather, "Where's Bemidji? It's so tomorrow."
What this team of young men did is a true example for the Bemidji State University community. They generated interest in the campus nationwide that no recruiter could buy in hundreds of campus visits. They put Bemidji on the map as a "feel-good" city, generating millions of dollars of positive promotion for our little hamlet.
And, most of all, they proved that Bemidji State's rich history and tradition in college hockey continues another generation, a generation that will inaugurate a new arena for the 21st century in short time, and hopefully into the elite college hockey league, the WCHA.
The Bemidji community is proud of its hockey ambassadors who journeyed to Washington, D.C., to play in the college's first-ever Division I Frozen Four championship games. We thank them for their efforts.
We only hope that when the Beavers left the arena Thursday night, they looked around and said, "See you next year," because that is where they belong.