Bemidji State is in.
It took a pair of tight 2-1 Ferris State wins over Lake Superior State, but the Beavers made the WCHA playoffs even despite getting swept at Bowling Green last weekend.
And how the Beavers get rewarded for it — a trip to Big Rapids, Mich., to take on the newly-minted league-champion Ferris State in a best-of-three first round playoff series starting Friday.*
*(Note: If you want to watch it, it will cost you money. Apparently the league is charging $9 per game during the playoffs. Even if you already paid for a full-season media package. So get ready to spend.)
ANYWAY: BSU is in, and as we know anything can happen in the playoffs.
But the fact that they’re in at all wasn’t a given until about 9:30 p.m. Saturday.
The Beavers conceded 10 goals to the Falcons — and their top-10 ranked penalty kill gave up four power play goals to Bowling Green during their weekend sweep.
Lake Superior State, on the other hand, played a couple of tight games they could have won but lost 2-1.
But they’re out and Bemidji State is in.
Hockey is weird sometimes, isn’t it?
The Beavers and the Lakers were tied with 24 points in the standings but BSU held the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Lakers.
And because Lake State failed to beat BSU one extra time, head coach Jim Roque lost his job.
It’s a little crazy that literally one win — a tie, even — could have cost a coach a job, especially in this new WCHA where the margin between third and ninth was so thin. The guy couldn’t have done much more.
(For a good take on Lake State’s situation, be sure to read Adam Wodon’s column over at College Hockey News. He points out that the Lakers aren’t in a unique situation… it’s one that programs of similar size/financial situations — like BSU — could also find themselves in.)
Bemidji State, meanwhile, might want to send Roque a fruit basket or something for his trouble.
The Beavers backed into the playoffs after losing six of their last eight games — that includes that 2-1 loss to Huntsville at home.
They might be a little lucky to be there, but they’re in the playoffs against a Ferris State team they’ve played decently against.
BSU is 1-3 against Ferris and 0-2 in Big Rapids but, strangely, BSU’s 2-1 win over FSU at the Sanford Center might have been the worst played against them (at least, offensively).
After taking a 2-1 lead into the first intermission the Beavers managed just five shots on goal the rest of the game. They played a solid defensive game and Andrew Walsh stood on his head to help BSU escape with the win.
In Big Rapids, though, BSU is 0-2 but nearly stole both of them. In the Friday game BSU had a third period lead before FSU tied it then won in overtime 5-4. In Saturday’s game, Walsh gave up four first period goals — Reid Mimmack came on to relieve him in the second period — but the Beavers scored the next three to make it a game again before eventually losing 5-3.
So: We’ve seen BSU play well at times against the Bulldogs. They’ll have to do it twice in three days to go to the Final Five.
I’ll have more on this in Friday’s paper so look for that.