GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (Van Andel Arena) -- With the score knotted at 1-1 after two periods, the Bemidji State University men¹s ice hockey team, along with Cornell University, took the ice in Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids, Mich., with 20 minutes on the clock to decide the fourth and final spot in the 2009 Men’s Frozen Four in Washington D.C.
A three goal final frame and a stout defensive performance vaulted the underdog Beavers into a 4-1 victory over the Big Red Sunday night.
They may not have garnered much attention heading into the 2009 Division I Men’s Ice Hockey Championship as the only qualifying team left out of the pairwise rankings, but there is no doubt the hockey world has taken notice. The Beavers punched their ticket and will perform on collegiate hockey’s grandest stage April 9-11---the Frozen Four.
Saturday’s 5-1 upset win over University of Notre Dame was the first Division I NCAA Tournament victory in school history, and now BSU will play in its first-ever Frozen Four.
Bemidji State, the first 16-seed to ever reach the Frozen Four, joins overall top seed Boston University, University of Vermont, and Miami (Ohio) University as the final four teams left vying for a national championship.
The Beavers escaped the first period of a back-and-forth tussle unscathed despite being whistled for three penalties in the frame. In addition to Matt Dalton’s (So., G, Clinton, Ontario) six saves in the period, the Beavers blocked an additional seven shots to fight off the Big Red attack and skate to the break with the score deadlocked at 0-0.
Cornell broke the scoreless tie at 12:35 of the second period. Sean Collins bounced the puck over Dalton’s right shoulder after the initial shot from the point was taken by defenseman Keir Ross. Tyler Mugford also recorded an assist on the play, and the Big Red took the early 1-0 lead.
Bemidji State’s Ryan Adams (So., D, Deloraine, Manitoba) made sure that lead didn’t last long, as he evened the score less than two minutes later with a seeing-eye shot that made its way through traffic and past CU goalie Ben Scrivens at 14:25 of the frame. Tyler Scofield (Sr., F, Prince George, British Columbia) was credited with the only assist on the play as Adams logged his first goal as a Beaver.
The lamp-lighter seemed to spark the Beavers, and they had several good scoring chances during the next four minutes. With 2:21 to play, the Big Red’s Brendon Nash was sent to the box for interference, providing BSU with a man advantage for the bulk of the period. Just 1:07 into the power-play, Shea Walters (Fr., F, Hibbing, Minn.) was whistled for cross-checking to negate the advantage. The teams finished 40 minutes of play knotted at one goal apiece, which set up a 20-minute fight for the final spot in the 2009 Frozen Four.
The Beavers struck first in the third, and it all began with Matt Read (So., F, Ilderton, Ontario). Read found the speedy Scofield streaking up the far side of the ice early in the period with a cross-ice pass that met the senior at the blue line. He skated it in and snapped off a wrister that found the twine to give the Beavers a 2-1 advantage with 15:55 to play. Junior defenseman Kyle Hardwick (Warroad, Minn.) began the play with a pass to Read and was credited for his first point of the season.
Ben Kinne (Fr., F, St. Paul, Minn.) laid the foundation for a two-goal cushion after an extremely aggressive forecheck. Midway through the period, the puck was at the stick of a Cornell defender to the left of the goalie at the half-wall. Kinne picked his pocket and went straight for the end wall. Right before he got behind the cage, he sent a smooth touch pass that nestled right outside the crease just a hair too far for Scrivens to reach. Matt Francis (Sr., F, Surrey, British Columbia) took the opportunity and ricocheted the puck off the inside of Scrivens’ right leg and into the net with 10:30 left in the game.
The final few minutes from tonight’s win and BSU’s 5-1 triumph over Notre Dame were near identical. In both cases, the two teams trailing the Beavers pulled their netminder, and both times Scofield made them pay with empty-net goals.
His second-straight two-goal performance was capped off with the final marker of the contest, 16:37 in.
Scofield put together two of the greatest games of his career in the Midwest Regional, and for his efforts he was named MVP of the tournament regional.
He recorded two goals and one assist in both wins, giving him four goals and two assists for an unreal six points in the two tournament wins. He also scored both game-winners. Read, Scofield, Dalton, Adams and Brad Hunt (Fr., D, Ridge Meadows, British Columbia) were named to the six-man All-Region tournament team. Joining the plethora of Beavers on the team was Cornell forward Evan Barlow.
Bemidji State will now move on to face Miami (Ohio) at 4:00 p.m. CST Apr. 9 at the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C. The winner will play in the national championship against the victor from the Boston University/Vermont game directly following BSU’s game.