Monday, March 30, 2009

Did Bemidji State Save Their Program?

Thinking out loud:
They kept flashing the graphic on the screen that the Bemidji State Beavers were the lowest-seeded team to ever advance to the Frozen Four--that it was the equivalent of the 64th team in college basketball making it. While I think the latter part is a bit dramatic, clearly this is one of the biggest surprises in the history of the NCAA Hockey Tournament.

What no one was talking about, however, is that Bemidji State might not have just been playing to make history. They might have been playing to save their program. While the WCHA voted to lift the moratorium on expansion, there was still no guarantee that they would offer membership to BSU. And with Alabama-Huntsville the only other CHA team without a home for next season, the future of the BSU program is completely up in the air.

A monumental upset of Notre Dame, and a victory over Cornell later, I have to believe that the WCHA would be crazy not to invite this team in. I mean, after all, ignoring the WCHA vs WCHA games which someone had to win, Bemidji State just matched the number of tournament victories for the WCHA as a whole over the past two seasons. They matched the number of Frozen Four appearances as well. Hard to argue that they wouldn't be strengthening the conference.

At this point, I just don't see the WCHA signing a death warrant for a program that is in the Frozen Four (and could possibly win the National Championship) and is in the process of building a new arena. They're getting a ton of national exposure here, being added to the WCHA would, I'm sure, help recruiting. And they've already won two more tournament games than St. Cloud has.

Here's hoping that the plight of the Beavers becomes a bigger story over the next couple of weeks. I'd love to see these kids win the whole damn thing. We've been discussing one-and-done hockey and how it's tough to watch when one loss ends your season. Think about what these players have been going through in the CHA Tournament and now the NCAAs. One loss could have potentially ended their program. Their accomplishment of whooping Notre Dame and making the Frozen Four was impressive enough as it is without taking into consideration the possible long-term effects.

Just another unbelievable storyline in a tournament that has had tons of them. These upsets have completely revitalized my interest in the tourney after Michigan got bounced. Normally I'd go into a shell for a couple weeks and not have the heart to watch the rest of the tournament. Man am I happy I didn't do that this year. I may not have watched as many tournaments as a lot of the people reading this, but I have a hard time believing that there's ever been one more amazing than this. We've had four games either tied or won in the last 18 seconds of regulation. And that's just the tip of the iceberg.

It's too bad the hockey tournament is completely overshadowed by March Madness, because this is truly the greatest event in all of sports, in my opinion. And we might just be witnessing the greatest tournament of them all.

4 comments:

Geoff said...

I was at the Midwest final last night, sitting right in front of the Bemidji section, and that was a hell of a thing to see. Congratulations to them, and let's hope that they find a new home after the CHA dissolves.

If Wayne State had done this three years ago and even had a drawing of a proposed rink, they'd still be playing hockey.

Craig said...

Tim,

Echoing Geoff's points, great post and I really do find myself pulling for the Beavers now, because really, why not? Also, the Holy Buckets post was absolutely fantastic because it summarizes the exact level of insanity this tournament has been about. It's a good thing when you really look at it, even if we all wish Michigan were still playing.

Brad said...

Repost from the previous thread for some historical perspective for you young 'uns:

I've been following the NCAA hockey tourney closely since I was a sophomore in 1992. Until now, I think the craziest tournament was 1998, interestingly enough.

That was when the tournament was still 12 teams, but the 2 top seeds in the east and west were eliminated in their first games. #1 overall MSU was eliminated by the #4 seed Ohio State in a memorable OT game at Yost. OSU made their first and only Frozen Four appearance. Meanwhile, East #1 BU lead by Hobey winner Chris Drury was eliminated in OT by #5 seed New Hampshire.

Defending national champ North Dakota, a favorite to repeat as NCAA champs, was of course eliminated by heavy underdog Michigan in the most incredible game I've ever seen at Yost. This was a day after UM needed a fluke Mark Kosick goal to defeat #6 seed Princeton.

So 2 young teams in BC and Michigan ended up meeting for the title, and we all know what happened there. Until now, that was the wildest tournament I can recall, but this one has blown it away.

Anonymous said...

Tim,

George Mason pep band adopts Bemidji. It's cute.

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/dcsportsbog/2009/04/george_masons_pep_band_adopts.html