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Miami of Ohio makes first Frozen Four

by Staff
Miami of Ohio senior forward Justin Mercier found a way to extend his career for another two weeks.

Mercier scored two goals Saturday night and freshman Cory Reichard made them stand up as Miami of Ohio advanced to the Frozen Four for the first time with a 2-1 victory over Minnesota-Duluth in the NCAA West Regional final in Minneapolis.

Miami, which eliminated top-seeded Denver on Friday, followed that by ousting the WCHA tournament champions to become only the second fourth-seeded team to make the Frozen Four since the current format was adopted in 2003.

"I'm a little bit lost for words right now," said  RedHawks coach Enrico Blasi, now in his 10th season running the team. "It was a great game, a great effort and a great crowd. I think the fans were entertained with a pretty good hockey game tonight, and we're pretty excited about going to the Frozen Four."

Mercier scored power play and shorthanded goals in the second period. Reichard, who was in goal for the RedHawks' 4-2 victory over Denver, stopped 25 shots. He was 2:05 from a shutout before MacGregor Sharp scored after the Bulldogs pulled goaltender Alex Stalock for an extra attacker.

"Reichard made some good saves," UMD coach Scott Sandelin said. "Give him all the credit. Both teams hit pipes. They capitalized on their power play and they also scored a shorthanded goal. I really thought Reichard made the difference in the game."

Mercier opened the scoring with a shorthanded goal at 8:42, ripping a wrist shot from the right circle past Stalock. He made it 2-0 at the 16-minute mark with a one-timer from the blue line down the slot.

UMD, which scored two sixth-attacker goals in the final 40 seconds in Friday's 5-4 overtime win over Princeton, peppered Reichard but were unable to beat him, sending the RedHawks into the Frozen Four in Washington on April 9 against the winner of Sunday's game between Bemidji State and Cornell.

"There are so many people enjoying this moment right now, and it means so much to them," Blasi said. "We happen to be the team that is going through it, but I think everyone associated with Miami hockey is tasting a little bit of the victory right now."

Material from wire services and college Web sites was used in this report.
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