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Bemidji State stuns top-seeded Notre Dame; Cornell nips Northeastern

by Staff
Cheer, cheer for old … Bemidji State?

Top-seeded Notre Dame joined the parade of upset victims in the NCAA Hockey Tournament when Bemidji State, the last seed in the 16-team field, stunned the Fighting Irish 5-1 in their Midwest Regional semifinal game at Grand Rapids, Mich.

The Beavers, champions of College Hockey America, will face third-seeded Cornell in Sunday's championship game for a berth in the Frozen Four on April 9 in Washington. The Big Red rallied from a 2-0 deficit and beat second-seeded Northeastern 3-2 in the first game when Evan Barlow scored with 17.2 seconds left in regulation.

The Irish, the second seed in the tournament, were expected to make short work of the Beavers, who earned their conference's automatic bid. Instead, it was Bemidji State that made the most of its opportunities, scoring five times on 19 shots for the school's first NCAA tournament victory and first win over a ranked opponent since 2006.

"It was a great win for our program," coach Tom Serratore said. "We’ve had a lot of success over the years. It’s really gratifying. We’re a battle-tested club and our program’s a battle-tested program. We’ve played a lot."

Less than two minutes into the contest, Notre Dame goaltender Jordan Pearce misplayed the puck behind his net, fanning on a clearing pass. The puck bounded off the side of the net, and Chris McKelvie grabbed the loose puck and tucked it by a surprised Pearce at 1:48.

The Beavers made it 2-0 at 11:03 on a power-play goal by senior Tyler Scofield. Brad Hunt got less than solid contact on a shot front the center of the blue line. but the puck floated and bounced off Scofield’s skate in front of the net past Pearce.

Ben Kinne was credited with the Beavers' third goal at 13:19 of the second period when Irish defenseman Teddy Ruth's clearing attempt accidentally tipped off Peace's pads and went into the net. Mark Read got the backbreaker when he beat Pearce with a rocket from the right circle for a shorthanded goal 49 seconds into the third period.

Dan Kissel got the Irish on the board at 6:02, but that was the only one of Notre Dame's 35 shots to elude Matt Dalton. Scofield capped the win by hitting the empty net with 3:27 remaining.

"I thought right from the very beginning they created turnovers that cost us opportunities." Irish coach Jeff Jackson said. "I think that the first goal was an indication of the way the night was going to go — strange bounces — and they made their bounces happen in a positive way and we didn’t."

In the first game, Cornell (22-9-4) overcame a 2-0 deficit, pulling within one on Blake Gallagher's goal late in the second period and tying it on Colin Greening's power-play goal with 3:56 left in regulation.

Gallagher then started what would be the game-winning play by carrying the puck into the Northeastern end and hitting Riley Nash in stride. With two defenders draped over him, Nash fell to the ice but maintained enough control to lay the puck into the path of the oncoming Barlow, who ripped a hard, low shot that beat Northeastern goaltender Brad Thiessen between the legs.

"Blake Gallagher did a great job of streaking down the right side," Barlow said. "He was getting squeezed off by two Northeastern players and he made a nice pass into Riley Nash. Riley protected the puck very well … and did a great job of laying it back to me.

"Originally, I was heading up high blocker, but then that Northeastern player slid and I just had to get the puck by him and that opened up Thiessen and the rest is history."

Northeastern (25-12-4) got on the board with 39.9 seconds left in the first period when Louis Liotti's shot from the center point caromed off a pair of Cornell players and trickled across the goal line. The Huskies made it 2-0 when Cornell was caught in a defensive line change and Steve Silva broke in alone before beating Ben Scrivens to the top left corner at 9:21 of the second period.

"Obviously, that’s a tough loss, no matter how you slice it," Northeastern coach Greg Cronin. "Two back-to-back — you know, we had the Lowell game last week and now this one — both 2-0 leads and very uncharacteristic of our team. All season, we’ve been very consistent and deliberate."

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