Both games, for all intents and purposes, feature teams with the same color schemes (green for Bemidji and Vermont, red for Miami and Boston University.
This game marked the first time two number four seeds met in the Frozen Four. The only other four seed to make the Frozen Four was Notre Dame. This was also the first trip to the Frozen Four for both Miami and Bemidji.
The Verizon Center was decorated with banners listing every school to win the national championship, with the year(s) stiched underneath.
Miami’s band played the national anthem at the start of the game. During the introductions, the cheers from the raucous Beavers’ fans nearly drowned out the announcer.
Bemidji’s pep band couldn’t make the trip to D.C., so the Beavers were “adopted” by the George Mason pep band. In 2006, the Patriots’ upset Connecticut in the Verizon Center to make the Final Four. The Patriots’ pep band mixed in an entertaining array of classic rock tunes, including Led Zeppelin’s “Kashmir” and Bon Jovi’s “Living on a Prayer”. Unfortunately for the Beavers, they met the same result as the Patriots in the semifinal tilt.
Neither team got a shot on goal for the first three minutes of the period, when Bemidji got one from the right-side boards. Miami got their first shot 30 seconds later. The offense did pick up, as both teams ended with 12 shots after one period.
Miami fans had plenty of reason to feel confident after their goal early in the second period; the RedHawks went 20-1-2 this season when scoring first.
Both teams first goals came on the power play. Coming into the Frozen Four, Miami was 0-for-13 on the power play.
This year in the press box, reporters were given a new stat to track, “Grade-A Scoring Chances.” The requirements were the offensive team had to have clean possession, a clear path to the net, and a shot from within the “Grade-A” zone, defined as a triangle between the two faceoff dots and the net. For the record, three of the goals were scored in those terms, Miami’s second and third and Bemidji’s first, and Miami held the edge for the game, 9-4.
Miami’s win makes this the third straight year that a low-seeded CCHA team has advanced the NCAA Championship game. Michigan State was a three seed when they beat Boston College in 2007 and Notre Dame a four seed when they fell to the Eagles last year.
“We got beat by a better team tonight,” said Beavers’ coach Tom Serratore. “You have to give Miami credit. They really out-muscled us.”
“One of the bigger shifts of the game, right after a goal,” said Beavers’ captain Travis Winter. “You try and win that shift, but unfortunately we didn’t.” One minute after the Beavers halved the RedHawks’ lead, the RedHawks got their two-goal lead back, and it clearly rattled the Beavers.
“What a wonderful venue,” said Serratore. “We had an opportunity to play in one of the greatest venues in the world in one of the greatest cities, if not the greatest city, in the world.”
“Losing in the finals of the Regional the last two years has been good preparation for right now,” said RedHawks’ senior Bill Loupee. “You can’t go into these games tight, or nervous. Who would have thought that losing to Northern in the second round would be a good thing for our team? It’s really helped us experience what the loss of the season would mean, and we’re playing for something huge now and it’s great.”
“If anyone was an underdog, we were,” said RedHawks’ coach Enrico Blasi, commenting on Bemidji’s play of late against stingy defensive teams in Notre Dame and Cornell.
“My phone is still going off with text messages,” said Blasi of congratulations he was receiving after the game. “I sure hope everyone is enjoying it back in Oxford, Ohio and across the country.”