WASHINGTON, D.C. — If there was an undoing for Bemidji State this season, it was exactly what played out Thursday on the Verizon Center ice.
Not being outplayed, like coach Tom Serratore and his players said they were in a 4-1 loss to Miami in the Frozen Four semifinals.
Not a shortfall of scoring like the Beavers experienced against a stingy RedHawks’ defense.
It was a quick turnaround that silenced the Beavers, and top-line center Matt Read said it wasn’t the first time he’s seen that.
Read scored a power-play goal midway through the second period to stem the tide of a Miami surge and cut the Beavers’ deficit to 2-1. Just 60 seconds later, however, everything shifted back toward the RedHawks with a Bill Loupee goal for a 3-1 lead.
“It’s kind of been a recurring thing all year. We score goals and the next shift is one of the worst of the game,” Read said. “We don’t come out with momentum; we don’t do anything with it. I thought we would learn from our mistakes from previous in the year, but after that goal we went back on our heels and it gave them all the momentum again.
“It wasn’t the end of the game, but it was the start of the end of the game for us there.”
It was 6:50 of setbacks, promise and another setback for the Beavers, who credited Miami for taking the play to them in the second period and taking control of the game.
Alden Hirschfeld put the RedHawks ahead 2-0, but, fittingly, it was the Beavers’ top three offensive threats who teamed up for a power-play goal.
Tyler Scofield found Matt Francis in the slot, and Francis fed Read down low for the finish.
A minute later, though, all the momentum was gone when Loupee scored.
“We thought we were tilting the ice a bit there, and they score a big goal and things start going their way again,” Beavers’ captain Travis Winter said. “That was a huge goal, probably the turning point of the night.”
Once the RedHawks had things in hand, they shut down any Bemidji hope.
“We couldn’t get going,” Beavers coach Tom Serratore said. “We were having a hard time sustaining any type of pressure. We weren’t getting pucks deep.”
When it got down to crunch time in the third period, Miami wasn’t letting much through its blue line.
The Beavers managed only seven shots on goal on 15 attempted shots in the final 20 minutes, and most of the tries were from the perimeter.
“I thought they outplayed us,” Read said. “They were stronger on the puck than us. They just wore away at us the whole 60 minutes of the game, and the outcome was due to losing a lot of puck battles.”
Scofield, Read and Francis all had a point in their final game together; Scofield and Francis are seniors, Read a sophomore. Like the rest of the team however, the top line had trouble getting anything going.
“They did a good job taking away our speed through the neutral zone,” said Scofield, who didn’t have a shot on goal. “I don’t remember too many times where we had great speed coming into their zone. We were just having a tough time hitting each other tonight. We’ve had some success lately, but tonight it just wasn’t there for us.”
It was the end of the road for the story of this year’s NCAA tournament, but the first No. 16 overall seed to reach the Final Four left an imprint.
In knocking off Notre Dame and Cornell in the Midwest Regional, the Beavers claimed their 15 minutes of fame, getting even Washington newspapers to devote space for a city pronunciation guide and a locator map.
Before heading off the ice Thursday, the players gathered in a line in front of their cheering section and gave one last dejected stick salute.
“We don’t have a big school, but everyone you know said they have tickets and they’re coming,” Read said. “It sucks to disappoint them, but they’ve done a lot for us all year and it was great to see the great support we have from them.”