Tommy Wingels scored twice as Miami of Ohio eliminated Bemidji State 4-1 on Thursday in the first game of the Frozen Four at the Verizon Center in Washington. The RedHawks will play top-seeded Boston University, a 5-4 winner over Vermont in the second semifinal, on Saturday night for the title.
It's the first NCAA championship game in any sport for Miami (23-12-5), the third CCHA team in as many years to make the title game. BU is trying to win its first championship since 1995.
The bigger RedHawks (23-12-5) took command after a scoreless first period, getting goals by Wingels, Alden Hirschfeld and Bill Loupee to take a 3-1 after two. Wingels added an empty-netter late in the third period, and freshman goaltender Cody Reichard made 24 saves.
"Obviously, we got some bounces there in the second period, and we knew Bemidji was going to be tough in the way they play, real aggressive style," Miami coach Enrico Blasi said. "I thought our guys did a pretty good job of adapting to that and really trying to turn it on them in transition."
It was a disappointing finish for Bemidji State, the 16th and final seed in the tournament, which shocked Notre Dame and Cornell to win its regional and get to its first Frozen Four.
"We got beat by a better team tonight," coach Tom Serratore said. "Miami was strong, they were quick, they reacted well. Every facet of their game was very good. We couldn’t get on track."
Wingels opened the scoring with a power-play goal 3:54 into the second period. He took a pass from Andy Miele and fired a shot from the left point that went through a screen and beat Bemidji goalie Matt Dalton inside the post.
The RedHawks made it 2-0 at 8:35 on the first of three goals scored by both teams in a 2:11 span. Wingels carried down left wing on a 2-on-1 break, deked Beaver defenseman Cody Bostock and fed Hirschfeld, who beat Dalton while falling to the ice.
The Beavers got on the board at 9:45 on Matt Read’s power-play goal. Matt Francis' pass from the slot found Read to the left of the crease, and Read deked Reichard to the ice before sweeping past him and hitting the open net.
But just 61 seconds later, Carter Camper’s shot from the left circle hit Bill Loupee’s stick in the crease, ricocheted off Dalton and trickled into the net to give Miami a 3-1 lead.
"The first shift after a goal is most important," Wingels said. "I thought we came out, got back to our game, chipped pucks deep. I thought we were physical the whole game. After a goal that's one of the things you need to do. Bill came back with a goal shortly after, and it's a big boost to the team."
Wingels' empty-net goal with three minutes to go completed the scoring, sending the Beavers home with a 20-16-1 record.
"They did a good job taking away our speed through the neutral zone," Bemidji State forward Tyler Scofield said. "I don't remember too many times where we had great speed coming into their zone, and we were just having a tough time hitting each other tonight."