Beavers' Dam Breaks
by Gregg Paul/CHN Correspondent
GREEN BAY, Wis. A night after watching another Cinderella team, Holy Cross, knock off mighty Minnesota in overtime, the Bemidji State Beavers had visions of duplicating the feat. However, they were faced with the daunting task of taking on the tournament's No. 1 seed, Wisconsin.
Ultimately, Bemidji State couldn't even match last year's captivating performance against Denver, an overtime loss to the eventual national champions. Wisconsin was not buying into that.
"We just addressed it quickly last night," said Badgers captain Adam Burish. "No matter who you play, there are only 16 teams left, and everyone is here for a reason."
Would a Beaver victory shock the world?
"I don't think so anymore," said BSU net minder Layne Sedevie. "I would hope not, after last year. We gained respect from what we did and showed that we're not a joke anymore, and a lot of people know this."
Apparently the pro-Badgers crowd didn't know that, or at least they didn't seem to care.
Adding to Bemidji State's task was the prospect of playing a relative road game, against Wisconsin in Green Bay.
Compared to the nearly 41,000 fans that watched the Badgers the last time they played in Green Bay's venerable Lambeau Field, the 8,700 or so rabid Badger fans packed the Resch Center and created an atmosphere that was almost as boisterous and intense.
Considering how the game played out, perhaps the Beavers were wondering if they belonged after all. The Beavers seemed like mere boys against men. Wisconsin was stronger, larger and quicker. Bemidji State had heart going for it, beating the Badgers to loose pucks early, but that wasn't enough to sustain the evening.
Wisconsin held a slim 6-2 shot advantage midway through the first period. The game would then change dramatically when the Badgers' Ryan MacMurchy was assessed a five-minute major for checking from behind and given a game disqualification.
The ensuing five-minute power play should have given Bemidji State an opportunity to open up a lead and put the Badgers on their heels. But it didn't come close to having that effect.
"When you get a five-minute power play and don't even get a shot, that just deflates you," said Bemidji State coach Tom Serratore.
The Badgers Joe Pavelski, then decided to help deflate the Beavers even further.
Late in the major penalty, Pavelski hustled on the backcheck, and surprised Beaver right wing Jean-Guy Gervais. Gervais subsequently tripped Pavelski ending the man advantage.
"Their guy was just trying to make a play ... and it was just pressure," said Pavelski. "It was just frustration on their part."
Pavelski, in addition to his three goals, won 15 of the 20 draws he took. That helped set up his second goal of the night, giving the Badgers a 2-0 lead. Pavelski won the puck clean through center Matt Pope's legs. He then stepped around Pope and fired a wrister past Sedevie.
Pavelski was asked how he accomplished that maneuver. As he was about to start explaining, coach Mike Eaves could be heard whispering, "Don't tell them that!"
From there, only Sedevie kept the rout from getting worse.
The Badgers amassed 23 shots for the period to four for Bemidji State. Even though Wisconsin only added a goal by Jake Dowell, the 3-0 hole could've been worse considering the shot disparity. Pavelski then finished his hat trick.
"Having it come here feels really good," Pavelski sheepishly understated. "But half the team is from Wisconsin, so I'm sure they had friends and family here as well."
Lost in the shuffle was the almost silent shutout by goalie Brian Elliott. Facing only 15 shots, Elliott was hardly tested, but was ready when called upon.
"There's always a little anxiety going into a game like this," said Eaves.
Once the Badgers killed off that major penalty, the anxiety had obviously subsided.