FORT WAYNE, Ind. — Two goals by Carl Hagelin — one a quick back-breaker to answer Bemidji State’s lone tally — helped Michigan advance past the Beavers, 5-1, to face CCHA rival Miami in Sunday’s Midwest Regional final.
“I don’t think that was a 5-1 game,” Michigan coach Red Berenson said. “They were always in the game, when you think about it. It was 2-0 in the third and then they scored a goal to get back in and really the momentum was about to change and that’s when Carl scored his goal from Matt Rust.
“That was an important comeback goal that really kept the momentum on our side. And then the third period tilted our way.”
Hagelin’s first goal came at 12:24 in the third to make it a 3-1 Michigan game, two minutes after the Beavers’ Ian Lowe scored on the power play to cut UM’s lead in half. It wasn’t the only direction-changing goal for the Wolverines; Louie Caporusso scored at 19:22 in the second to put Michigan ahead by two going into the third.
“That was huge, too,” said Berenson. “That may be a little bit of luck. I thought the play started with Chris Summers. Chris Summers forced them to take the penalty, using his speed. Then we ended up with a four-on-three. It was five-on-four, then it was four-on-four, and then it was four-on-three. You know that those last-minute goals are tough.”
The Wolverines scored in each of the first two periods to take that 2-0 lead. At 6:15 in the first, Luke Glendening tipped in Chad Langlais’ shot, and Caporusso’s goal was a rocket from the bottom of the right circle from Chris Brown.
“Any time you let in a goal that late in the period, it’s a little bit deflating,” said BSU captain Chris McKelvie. “That was definitely a preventable goal.”
Lowe’s power-play marker, his 21st of the season, was a pickup of Matt Read’s rebounded shot. When Hagelin answered two minutes later, he took advantage of a broken Bemidji line change. He and Kevin Lynch skated in two-on-one, with Hagelin left passing to Lynch, right. Then Lynch shuffled the puck back to Hagelin, leaving BSU netminder Dan Bakala unable to recover in time to make the save.
“I actually thought their D was going to get the puck because he was so close to the puck but he made a bad change and I, you know, kept skating,” said Hagelin. “Lynch was up there with me on the two-on-one and I felt like he was open right away and then he passed me back. I was kind of surprised, but I had a tap-in goal.”
Less than four minutes after that, Hagelin scored again, this time on a shorthanded breakaway, to make it a 4-1 game, and from then on there was little the Beavers could do to catch the Wolverines.
“That’s a great hockey team we played tonight,” said Bemidji State coach Tom Serratore. “They have a lot of octane, and every opportunity, every time we had a breakdown, they took advantage of those opportunities, and that’s just a sign of a great hockey team.”
Brian Lebler capped the scoring with an empty-netter at 18:02.
Serratore said that even before the difference-making goals, the Beavers squandered opportunities that affected the outcome of the game. In the first, BSU had four consecutive power plays.
“We had those four in the first period, and you’d like to convert,” said Serratore. “There’s no question about it. As the game went on, we had a few more power plays. At least we had more possession time and we had more shots, but we need to get one in the first period.”
The loss caps a 23-10-4 season for Bemidji State in the final season of the CHA. BSU joins the WCHA in 2010-11.
“I’m especially proud of our guys,” said Serratore. “I thought we fought until the bitter end. That’s just the hottest team in the country, and that might be the best team in the country right now.”
The Wolverines (26-17-1) will face off against Miami at 8:05 p.m. Eastern Sunday in a rematch of last week’s CCHA semifinal contest, which UM won 5-2. That game, said Berenson, is in the past — but may work in Miami’s favor.
“Last week’s game just motivated them,” said Berenson. “I told their coach yesterday, we did everything we could to help them get ready for this week, and then they did. They had a great week of practice. They’re the team to beat. They’re the No. 1 seed here.”