The Blake Bears played in and won three state class A championship games in team history. All three were won with Brano Stankovsky on the bench. Stankovsky passed away suddenly due to complications from a stroke last April but will have just as good of a seat when his team plays in the championship game on Saturday afternoon.
"I know it would mean the world," said senior Dani Cameranesi of winning a championship for Stankovsky. "His entire family has been here for us throughout the entire tournament and the entire season."
The Bears who are making their first appearance since winning in 2009 made sure they punched their ticket as they played a physical game, wearing down the state's top scorer Nicole Schammel and the high powered Red Wing Wingers.
"We came in with a gameplan and the word we used is initiate," said head coach Shawn Reid. "We had to initiate everything on the ice. We had to go hard to take away their time and space."
After taking a 1-0 lead on Karlie Lund's first goal, the Wingers bounced back less than 30 second later when Schammel scored to tie the game. Schammel scored four goals in the quarterfinal win but couldn't find the net against a physical and bigger team.
"I was getting frustrated, but it was just like I couldn't get the puck in the back of the net like I normally do," said Shammel. "I just think our whole team, the puck wasn't bouncing our way."
It was Lund, a sophomore who carried the offensive load for the Bears scoring a hat trick and
"I felt good from the beginning," said Lund. "I knew that as a team we had to come out strong and fast and like coach always says 'win it in the third period', that's what we did."
The Bears took a 3-1 lead on Lund's second goal in the second period only to watch as the Wingers battled their way back scoring twice in the period. The second came short handed when Katelyn Hadler tallied for Red Wing at 11:48. Ten seconds later, the Bears snatched back the momentum when Carly Bullock scored on the power play.
Lund and Cameranesi both scored in the third period putting the game away and the Bears in the championship game.
They will face the winner of Warroad and South St. Paul at noon at Xcel Energy Center.