MEN’S HOCKEY: Bemidji State sweeps Michigan Tech, advances to WCHA semifinals

The Beavers clinched a spot in the WCHA semifinals with a 4-1 victory over Michigan Tech on Saturday night, securing a 2-0 quarterfinal series sweep at the Sanford Center.

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The Beavers celebrate after defeating Michigan Tech 4-1 in the WCHA quarterfinals Saturday at the Sanford Center. (Jillian Gandsey / Bemidji Pioneer)

BEMIDJI -- A Western Collegiate Hockey Association postseason title is only two wins away for the Bemidji State men’s hockey team.

The Beavers clinched a spot in the WCHA semifinals with a 4-1 victory over Michigan Tech on Saturday night, securing a 2-0 quarterfinal series sweep at the Sanford Center.

The sweep was the first by BSU in a playoff series since taking two games at Omaha in the first round of the 2010-11 WCHA playoffs, the program’s first season in the league.

Zach Driscoll duplicated his performance from Friday’s 3-1 win, totaling 33 saves for the second game in a row.

The fifth-seeded Huskies (17-12-1) struck first for the second consecutive night, but fourth-seeded Bemidji State (15-8-3) netted two goals in 52 seconds during the second period to pull ahead. Ethan Somoza tallied the game-winner on the heels of Brad Johnson’s goal.


“Probably about the first 25-27 minutes the tempo was dictated by Michigan Tech,” BSU head coach Tom Serratore said. “They were winning all the loose pucks. We weren’t making a lot of plays. I just thought we were a step slow. Zach made some big saves in the first period to keep that thing to one (goal). But then we had a couple shifts in the second period and that just changed everything.”

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Bemidji State’s Elias Rosen (28) and Ethan Somoza (9) celebrate Somoza’s game-winning goal in the second period against Michigan Tech on Saturday at the Sanford Center. (Jillian Gandsey / Bemidji Pioneer)

Tommy Parrottino weaved through traffic during a 4-on-4 situation for the lone goal of the first period, putting Tech up 1-0.

The Beavers found their stride in the second, and that eventually led to the two-goal outburst late in the frame.

Johnson fired a long-range shot that evaded a screened Blake Pietila for the tying goal with 3:02 left.

Somoza netted the go-ahead goal 52 seconds later on a strange deflection in front of the crease that fluttered past Pietila. Elias Rosén ripped the initial shot following a faceoff win.

“We worked hard for our bounces and then just shut it down defensively really well,” Driscoll said.


The Beaver netminder did his part in the series by allowing only one goal in each game, all while delivering crucial stops when his team needed them.

“In college hockey, you’ve got to treat every game like a playoff game,” Driscoll said. “You’ve got to make a habit to be in that same mindset every time. … You do have to crank it up a few notches in the playoffs, I guess, but it’s really just the work that you’ve done all year long coming to fruition at the end of the year there.”

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Bemidji State goalie Zach Driscoll (33) makes a glove save in the third period against Michigan Tech on Saturday at the Sanford Center. (Jillian Gandsey / Bemidji Pioneer)

Alex Adams and Ross Armour tacked on empty-net goals in the final 2:18 to bring the game to its final score.

BSU’s top-ranked penalty kill got a break Saturday as the team stayed out of the penalty box the whole game.

“You can’t take penalties in the playoffs,” Serratore said. “I remember we lost to Michigan Tech a few years back… and they beat us two straight. We had two five-minute majors in the third period and they broke our back. You can only go back to the well so many times.

“We were fortunate not to have any penalties tonight and we didn’t have to kill. We had a lot of discipline, as well.”


Bemidji State will travel to Mankato for a single-game semifinal on Friday, March 19.

The Mayo Clinic Health System Event Center will host both semifinal games Friday, as well as Saturday’s championship game, by virtue of top-seeded Minnesota State’s sweep of eighth-seeded Ferris State.

No. 2 seed Lake Superior State also completed a sweep of No. 7 seed Alabama Huntsville on Saturday. Third-seeded Bowling Green forced a Game 3 Sunday by blanking sixth-seeded Northern Michigan 5-0.

If BGSU wins Sunday, Bemidji State will face Minnesota State in the semifinals. BSU will meet Lake Superior State if NMU wins.

Game times for Friday’s semifinals are to be announced.

The Beavers advanced to the semifinals last year before the pandemic wiped out the remainder of the postseason. They’ve worked to return to the same stage, with an NCAA Tournament berth at stake.

“We did the work all year last year and made it to the semifinals, but kind of had it taken away from us obviously with COVID,” Driscoll said. “To be able to put ourselves back in that spot, it means a lot.”

No. 15 Bemidji State 4, Michigan Tech 1


MTU 1 0 0 -- 1

BSU 0 2 2 -- 4

First period -- 1, MTU, Parrottino (Swoyer, Thorne), 12:09, 4v4.

Second period -- 2, BSU, Johnson (Kirkup), 16:58; 3, BSU, Somoza (Rosén, Miller), 17:49.

Third period -- 4, BSU, Adams (Zmolek), 17:42, EN; 5, BSU, Armour (Ierullo, Johnson), 19:29, EN.

Goalies (saves-shots) -- BSU, Driscoll (33-34); MTU, Pietila (27-29).


Austin Monteith is the former sports editor at the Bemidji Pioneer. A native of Bloomington, Ill., he is a 2015 graduate of Butler University. Follow him on Twitter at @amonteith92. Contact the Pioneer sports department at
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