Bemidji State University Beavers
2 seed vs. Michigan, Midwest Regional (Allen County War Memorial Coliseum, Fort Wayne, IN)
At-large bid from CHA
CHA Regular Season Champion
Coach: Tom Serratore
Before you start, as always, we must point you to MGoBlog's Brian Cook's fantastic preview (http://mgoblog.com/content/puck-preview-bemidji-and-beyond) that is really more than any of us deserve.
"Oh no, they're bitin' him, and stealing his pants." The observations of Carl Carlson are why we can never trust the beavers to be helpful. Last year, Bemidji State did two totally and wholly unexpected things in the NCAA Tournament. First, they became the first CHA school to advance to the Frozen Four, and second, they were such a Cinderella with a funny name in doing so that they got sports writers around the country to stand up and take notice of how much fun Hockey Christmas can be. It is a testament to Bemidji State this year that while they did not win the last CHA tournament, they became just the second team from CHA or Atlantic Hockey to earn an at-large berth in the tournament, and not just that, but earn a second seed as well. As the CHA moves in to the ethereal past of college hockey, where it joins UIC, Kent, Wayne State, and Northern Arizona as ghosts of what once was, Bemidji will look to honor the departed before starting a new chapter as a part of the W next season.
The Beavers score goals in bunches (3.53 goals per game, admittedly with 18 games against the rest of the CHA) and as INCH points out, it seems to be a simple equation for Bemidji, score a lot of goals and win, don't score a lot of goals and potentially struggle. The key, it would appear, for any team wishing to shut down Bemidji would be to lock down junior forward Matt Read (who had Bemidji's only goal last year against Miami in the Frozen Four) and hope that you can make them play from behind and press. Even then, Bemidji has shown they can find the back of the net.
I make no predictions, I bear no illusions that I know the future; but I do know that if the casual observer came across the college hockey bracket, they would likely see Bemidji/Michigan and presume that Michigan is going to roll in to a Regional Final showdown with Miami. But, that is not the storyline of this season. Michigan is the hotter team at the moment, no doubt, but momentum does not keep the puck out of the net, or keep you out of the box. It puts you in a good frame of mind (hopefully), and you look to build on it. Bemidji is 120 minutes from going from feel good Frozen Four fluke to team to be reckoned with. Overlook the Beavers at your own peril, because they're clearly not out there to rescue you.