When Bemidji State emerged from the Midwest Regional after downing Notre Dame and Cornell, the Beavers became instant media darlings and the unofficial new favorite team of everyone whose true love wasn’t playing in D.C. this weekend. The George Mason basketball pep band even adopted them for the Frozen Four when BSU didn’t have the travel budget to bring its own band – a good fit, since Beaver head coach Tom Serratore evoked the spirit of George Mason’s 2006 Final Four run post-game in Grand Rapids.
But Bemidji wasn’t the only upset team to win its way to the Frozen Four for the first time this year, and after the Miami RedHawks dispensed of the Beavers in Thursday’s early semifinal, it seemed as though the press corps was stumped regarding the team whose home is in southwest Ohio.
Said one reporter, “We’ve heard a lot of questions about where is Bemidji. A lot of non-hockey people – ”
“Where is Oxford, Ohio?” asked Miami head coach Enrico Blasi, anticipating the enormous need of the assembled to process information that should not – by any stretch of the imagination – be new.
“It’s not in Florida, right?” said the reporter.
“It certainly is not in Florida,” Blasi said.
To be precise, Oxford is at latitude 39? 30? N, longitude 84? 45? W. In other words, 774 miles as the crow flies from Boston, a 40-minute drive north of Cincinnati, Ohio – which borders Kentucky – and about six miles east of the Indiana border. Oxford is roughly a 120-mile drive to the Ohio state capital and home of the Buckeyes, Columbus, but it’s closer to Louisville, Ky. (138 miles) than it is to Miami’s other Ohio CCHA rival, Bowling Green (178 miles).
So on Thursday when a reporter asked Boston University head coach Jack Parker what he knew about Miami and Parker joked, “I know it’s warmer there,” he spoke more truth than he realized.
As the RedHawks are playing for the first national championship of any sport in Miami University history – and it is Miami University, not Miami of Ohio – this trip to the Frozen Four is every bit as unique for Miami as it was for Bemidji, maybe more so.
“Right now,” said Blasi, “for our program, I hope that our community, our student body, our alumni, former coaches, everybody associated with the program are enjoying the journey.”
I’m not associated with the program, but as someone who has covered Miami hockey since 1995 – for many years from a very close 120 miles until I moved last year from Columbus to Michigan – I know that I’m enjoying the journey.
I’m also enjoying the confusion of my colleagues.