Bridgeport, CT – The Bemidji State Beavers squeaked into the NCAA tournament last Sunday. In Bridgeport, they loudly announced that they deserve to be in the big dance with a convincing 6-3 win over the top seed Wisconsin Badgers to advance to the East Regional Final tomorrow.
“We just wanted to attack; our word all week was attack,” said Bemidji coach Tom Serratore. “We just wanted to attack, attack, attack, and apply pressure all over the rink.”
And that’s what they did from start to finish.
The Beavers opened up the scoring at 6:33 when Ross Armour beat Badgers goalie Robbie Beydoun (24 saves) in front of the goal. Armour’s fifth of the season was unassisted.
Despite two penalties on the Badgers, the Beavers were unable to take advantage of the power-play.
Elias Rosen doubled the Bemidji State lead at 19:44 when he fired a shot on goal that beat Beydoun glove-side high. It looked as if a Bemidji skater screened the senior goalie from Plymouth, Michigan. A Wisconsin defenseman turn-over led to the goal when he threw the puck out of the corner blindly right to Rosen at the blueline.
Wisconsin showed signs of life early in the second period with help from Bemidji’s Sillinger brothers Owen and Lukas. The two were called for penalties just fourteen seconds apart, giving the Badgers potent power-play a five-on-three. Linus Weissbach capitalized at 3:57 to cut the deficit to one when he put the puck past Zach Driscoll (30 saves).
As the period wore on, the Badgers seemed to lose their drive. Ethan Somoza had a shot from the slot that trickled through Beydoun’s legs to make it 3-1 at 14:22.
A blunder by Beydoun along the Badger goal line led to an easy wrap-around goal for Owen Sillinger at 17:15.
The Badgers opened the third with Cameron Rowe (10 saves) in goal.
Somoza scored again at 6:05 when he blasted a pass past Rowe to make it 5-1 Beavers. Wisconsin defenseman Josh Ess turned the puck over behind the Badgers’ goal, and Somoza’s second of the game all but sealed it for the four seed.
It wouldn’t be a Wisconsin game without Cole Caulfield scoring, so he scored twice to cut the deficit to 5-3.
The first goal came on the power-play at 8:19 when he snipped a shot past Driscoll from the slot. Dylan Holloway and Ty Pelton-Byce assisted on the goal.
The second came at 14:54 when he blasted a backdoor rebound past Driscoll to cap the Badgers scoring on the day. The sophomore phenom ended the season with 30 goals in 31 games.
Brendan Harris added an empty netter at 19:59 for the icing on Bemidji’s opening-round upset.
“They (Bemidji) outworked us,” said Badger defenseman Ty Emberson. “They outbattled us.”
“Their team (Bemidji) got some momentum early in the game; they found a reason, a belief in themselves that they could frustrate us and get to their game,” said Wisconsin coach Tony Granto. “We dug ourselves too big of a hole.”
“We were just playing aggressive the whole game,” said Bemidji’s leading scorer Somoza. “We knew. they were going to have some good push back there, but we stuck to the same game plan, just being aggressive everywhere.”