Counting down to the Frozen Four championship game on April 8, we feature some of the greatest moments from the NCAA Hockey Tournament in the history of ASN's family of schools. Today: Bemidji State.
First of all, it was Bemidji State's first appearance in the Frozen Four — the final four of the NCAA men's hockey tournament.
The Beavers also were the first team (and last) from the now-defunct College Hockey America and the first No. 16 seed to reach the Frozen Four.
They advanced by stunning second-ranked Notre Dame, 5-1, and ninth-ranked Cornell, 4-1, to win the Midwest Regional on March 28-29, 2009, in Grand Rapids, Mich., judged the greatest moment in Bemidji State sports history.
"Bemidji State's ascension to college hockey's Frozen Four," wrote The Wall Street Journal, "is one of the greatest upsets in collegiate sports history."
“Obviously we knew it was an uphill battle," head coach Tom Serratore told USCHO.com. "I mean, who’s kidding who?”
“Did we expect to win both games? I don’t know,” senior Travis Winter told the New York Times. “I knew we’d compete and we’d have a chance. I’m not going to sit here and say I’m not surprised, but I’m not shocked either. We’ve got a good hockey team.”
The Beavers started the season 1-6 but finished strong to earn the top seed in the CHA Tournament. They beat Robert Morris 3-2 in overtime to reach the NCAA Tournament.
The fun was just getting started for the pride of Bemidji, Minn., home to 18-foot statues of Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox.
Then came the NCAA Tournament victories against Notre Dame and Cornell. In the regional championship, tournament MVP Tyler Scofield scored two goals and Matt Dalton stopped 25 shots.
"I don't want to sit here and say we weren't surprised," Serratore told the St. Paul (Minn.) Pioneer Press. "But we go into every game thinking we're going to win. We're a battle-tested team.
"I think we were prepared for our regional. I think people are disrespecting our league (College Hockey America). You know when you're playing the No. 2 team in the country (Notre Dame), it's going to be a battle. But if you get in a rhythm early, as the game goes on, you gain more confidence. And the opposition loses confidence."
Bemidji State's Cinderella run ended with a 4-1 loss to Miami (Ohio) in the Frozen Four. But that didn't diminish the Beavers' accomplishment.
"I can tell you what it did," Serratore told the New York Daily News. "It gave the people in Bemidji, just a lot of pride for the Beavers. And the people in the region, alumni — our alumni, they're just a — we have a wonderful group of alumni and gave those guys a sense of pride."