WASHINGTON – In an NCAA tournament filled with upstarts and upsets, hockey blue-blood Boston University is one victory from its fifth national championship.

Hobey Baker Award finalist Colin Wilson scored twice, including a tiebreaking goal with about 51/2 minutes left, and the top-seeded Terriers beat Vermont 5-4 in a thrill-a-minute Frozen Four semifinal Thursday night.

In Saturday’s championship game, Boston will play No. 4-seeded Miami (Ohio), which ended the surprising run of outsider Bemidji State by winning the first semifinal 4-1.

BU was the only No. 1 or No. 2 seed in the 16-team tourney to reach the Frozen Four – and the only past champion to get that far. Now the Terriers will try to claim their first NCAA hockey title since 1995.

Wilson – whose father, Carey, played 13 seasons in the NHL – scored the game’s first goal and its last. He helped Boston go ahead 2-0, before Vermont responded with three goals in a 6-minute span of the second period.

The game was tied when freshman defenseman Drew MacKenzie’s first college goal, on a power play with about 10 minutes left, put the Catamounts ahead 4-3.

It seemed as though no lead was safe in this back-and-forth game featuring two freshman goalies, and MacKenzie was involved again – in the worst of ways – when BU made it 4-4 with just under 7 minutes left in the third period. Chris Higgins’ shot was blocked by goalie Rob Madore, but the puck bounced right off a sliding MacKenzie’s stick and into the net.

It took all of 73 seconds for Boston to finally take control for good, when Higgins took a shot that Madore kicked away – right to Wilson, who tapped the puck in.

After the success of first-time Frozen Four participants Miami and Bemidji State, it might have made sense that Vermont would knock off BU. On the other hand, that Vermont led BU with half a period to play is not entirely stunning, given that the Catamounts did hand the Terriers two of their six losses this season entering Thursday.

Miami of Ohio 4, Bemidji State 1

WASHINGTON – Where’s Bemidji? That’s so yesterday.

Here’s the latest question from the Frozen Four: Where’s Miami?

Well, when it comes to hockey, it’s in the Midwest.

“It certainly is not in Florida,” Miami coach Enrico Blasi said. “I sure hope everybody’s enjoying this back in Oxford, Ohio.”

A Miami school will play for an NCAA title, and it’s not the Hurricanes from down South. The RedHawks, in the first national semifinal game played by any sports team in the university’s history, beat fellow upstart Bemidji State 4-1 on Thursday night to advance to the championship of the Frozen Four.

“It puts Miami on the map,” left wing Justin Mercier said. “To establish ourselves as a perennial powerhouse, we need to make it to more Frozen Fours. It has to start somewhere, right?”

Stunning upsets in the first two rounds made Bemidji State – the small university located in a northern Minnesota town better known for its place in the Paul Bunyan legend – the darlings of the week, much as George Mason was at basketball’s Final Four three years ago. GMU even loaned its “Green Machine” pep bard to the green-clad Beavers and played a chorus or two of “Livin’ on a Prayer” – Mason’s unofficial theme song during the 2006 run – in an unsuccessful attempt to rally the school’s kindred spirits in the third period.

Yet, while Bemidji State had the funkier name (pronounced, as the sports world knows by now, beh-MIDGE-ee), it was Miami that had the three-goal burst in the second period that essentially settled the game.

Miami (23-12-5) will face the winner of Boston University and Vermont, who played later Thursday, in Saturday’s title game. Bemidji State (20-16-1) will head home with a George Mason-like feeling – good enough to make its sport’s biggest stage, but not good enough to win once it was there.

“A lot of people were pulling for us; we knew that going into the game,” BSU defenseman Cody Bostock said. “It’s a feel-good story for a lot of people out there. It’s something special to be a part of. You want to thank everyone out there.

“Unfortunately, tonight we came up on the wrong end, but it’s been a good run. The time of a lifetime. Something I’ll never forget.”

Had the Beavers not been here, Miami would have been carrying the banner for the underdogs. The RedHawks, who not long ago used to call themselves the Redskins, might be best known among sports fans for producing Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. Only one Division I hockey school – Alabama-Huntsville – is further south. Oxford’s population of 22,000 could almost squeeze into the Verizon Center, although Bemidji’s 14,000 or so would fit with room to spare.

“I think it just puts an exclamation point on what coach Blasi has been building since he got to Miami,” Mercier said. “He really had a vision and when I was being recruited here to Miami, I really believed what he was doing, and in what he was doing.”

Tommy Wingels, Alden Hirschfeld and Bill Loupee all found the net during the second-period barrage, scoring more goals against Bemidji State in 7 minutes than the Beavers allowed in the first two rounds, when they shocked the college hockey world by beating Notre Dame and Cornell.

Wingels also had an empty-net goal in the third. Freshman goalie Cody Reichard made 24 saves for the RedHawks.


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