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Bemidji State men's hockey: Michigan coach has respect for BSU's success

DETROIT (AP) -- All Red Berenson knows about Bemidji State is that it is a good team.

Berenson's Michigan Wolverines will face Bemidji State in a first-round NCAA Tournament matchup on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. EDT in the Midwest Regional at Fort Wayne, Ind.

"They beat Notre Dame last year and they beat Miami" of Ohio this year, Berenson said. "Those are two landmark wins. They snuck up on some people last season but not this season."

Miami is the NCAA Tournament's top overall seed and is also in the Midwest Region.

Bemidji State is 23-9-4.

This is the Wolverines' 20th consecutive trip to the NCAA Tournament, the longest current streak in the country.

Michigan (25-17-1) struggled for much of the season and could only extend its NCAA streak by winning the Central Collegiate Hockey Association playoff championship. But the Wolverines got hot about a month ago, advanced to the CCHA championship contest on Saturday night, and won by defeating Northern Michigan 2-1. That was a night after the Wolverines beat Miami 5-1 in a semifinal.

"To me, this has been the most difficult and challenging time to get to the tournament," said Berenson, who has won 699 career games. "We've had a rough road: good for the team and good for the players."

Michigan's run is personified by junior goalie Shawn Hunwick. The walk-on, who is the brother of former Michigan and Boston Bruins' defenseman Matt Hunwick, was thrust into the starting role when No. 1 goaltender Bryan Hogan suffered a severe groin injury in late February.

Hunwick is 7-1 with a sub-2.00 goals-against average since taking over. He was the MVP of the CCHA Championship Tournament.

The Wolverines are led offensively by juniors Carl Hagelin (17 goals and 30 assists for 47 points), Louie Caporusso (20-21-41) and Matt Rust (13-25-38).

The Frozen Four, scheduled for April 8-10 at Detroit's Ford Field, is less than 50 miles away from Michigan's campus in Ann Arbor.

Bemidji State skated to a tie with Robert Morris in the College Hockey America consolation game last weekend.

The Beavers feature junior forwards Matt Read (19-21-40) and Ian Lowe (20-10-30) and sophomore defenseman Brad Hunt (7-26-33). The bulk of the goaltending responsibilities are handled by Dan Bakala, who is 19-7-3 with a 2.27 GAA and .919 save percentage.

Northern Michigan also reached the NCAA Tournament. The Wildcats (20-12-8) are in St. Paul, Minn., as part of the West Regional, where they will play St. Cloud State (23-13-5) on Friday at 4:30 p.m. CDT.