What’s a Bemidji? It’s a school in the Frozen Four

By Joseph White, AP Sports Writer
Washington, D.C. (AP) 4-09

Suddenly, everyone wants to know about Bemidji State.

Where is it? On the edge of a lake in the northern Minnesota town of – you guessed it – Bemidji.

How big? About 5,000 students.

What’s a Bemidji? A Native American word translated as “river crossing lake.”

What do they do up there? Hockey, hockey, curling, hockey and, well, hockey.

The Beavers are in the Frozen Four for the first time, headed to Washington during early April with Boston University, Vermont and Miami of Ohio to determine the NCAA champion.

“This is great for hockey,” coach Tom Serratore said during a conference call. “It’s boring to have the same teams all the time. Look at college basketball. I was watching ESPN, and they were kind of talking about how boring it was this year because all the teams that are supposed to win are winning. There’s something about Bemidji State advancing on. I think there’s a little bit of a buzz.”

Locals braved the cold to welcome the Beavers home at the Bemidji airport about 2 a.m. March 30, hours after the school’s 4-1 victory over Cornell in the NCAA Midwest Regional title game. Bemidji State was the lowest seed in its bracket.

“It’s been pretty surreal,” senior forward Tyler Scofield said. “We probably feel like rock stars.”

The Beavers have won 13 NCAA champions at lower levels, but this is their best run since moving up to Division I in 1999. Now they are to the Frozen Four what George Mason was to the Final Four in 2006 – a “Who is that?” school ready to make an impression.

“People are going to know where Bemidji’s at,” Serratore said. “It gives our community, our university a little notoriety, and any time you have that, you can’t put a price tag on it. It’s good for student enrollment. It’s just great visibility.”