BEMIDJI (AP) - Bemidji residents are celebrating Bemidji State's improbable run through the NCAA men's hockey tournament, which will next take the team to the Frozen Four.
Dozens of fans braved the cold to welcome the Beavers home at the Bemidji airport about 2 a.m. Monday, hours after their 4-1 victory over Cornell in the NCAA Midwest Regional championship game.
Bemidji State will meet Miami of Ohio on April 9 in Washington, D.C., in its first-ever Frozen Four appearance.
The Beavers are the first team from College Hockey America to earn a Frozen Four berth. They are also the first No. 16 seed to advance to the semifinals since the field was expanded to 16 teams in 2002.
"We believed," said Beavers head coach Tom Serratore after Sunday's win. "That's what happens - you believe in your program and your team. We knew what we were up against, but we also believed. We really felt we could win this. We knew it was an uphill battle, I mean come on, who's kidding who?"
Tyler Scofield had two goals and an assist on Sunday and Matt Dalton recorded 25 saves to lead Bemidji. Scofield scored early in the third period Sunday to break a 1-1 tie. Matt Francis added an insurance goal for the Beavers and Scofield scored into an open net late in the game.
Among those at the impromptu rally early Monday were Bemidji Mayor Richard Lehmann and Bemidji State University President Jon Quistgaard. The Bemidji State women's hockey team tossed around green and white balloons and displayed banners that read "Frozen 4" and "D.C. Bound."
Dalton, who made a a spectacular glove save off a point blank shot, was the first player through the airport doors, and he was nearly tackled by his girlfriend.
The fans lined up in rows on each side of the automatic doors and the players streamed out between them, getting a series of high-fives and hugs.
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