A little girl sat in the front row watching with wide eyes as the team she came to cheer for, the Blake Bears were comfortably ahead of the Warroad Warriors in the state championship game.
"Do you think Brano is watching up there," her mom asked?
"Nope," said the girl who held up a sign that read 'Brano's in the House'. "I think he's here."
A powerful statement coming from a girl who was maybe all of six years old. Longtime Blake coach Brano Stankovsky died suddenly last April from complications of a stroke. The popular coach led the Bears to three state championships and according to most had the best seat in the house.
"I'm kind of speechless right now to be honest," said senior captain Dani Cameranesi who made her first state tournament appearance since her 8th grade year. "I know we've been working for probably like 365 days to get here for him but he's tought us a lot along the way."
There wasn't a game that went by that Cameranesi didn't think about her former coach and as the clock at Xcel Energy Center hit zero, the Blake student section broke out in a Brano chant.
"I'm sure he's up there cheering right now," said Cameranesi.
The Warriors rarely lose hockey games let alone lose the way they did to Blake. Head coach David Marvin will have his team back again next year, but the loss stings.
"Are you kidding me," said Marvin when asked if he saw this coming. "They took us behind the woodshed. That's probably the worst I've ever been beat. I thought they were great today and when we did finally wake up, which was way too late we couldn't get a bounce."
The game was a sharp contrast from the first time the two teams played over the holiday break at the Kaposia Classic in South St. Paul. In that game, it was the Warriors who won soundly by 12-1.
"The looked completely different, I wish we wouldn't have played that game," said Marvin. "They were awful that night and as awful as they were at Christmas, they were outstanding (today)."
Warroad senior Lisa Marvin added her name to the list of all-time greats in Minnesota hockey history. The career leader in points and assists, Marvin played in St. Paul every year of her high school career and for a moment, her dad took the place of her coach as he sat before the media.
"Obviously we're proud of her," said Marvin pausing for a moment to reflect on his daughters career. "Her resume looks pretty good. There aren't many out there that have accomplished more than her as a high school athlete. I'm uncomfortable talking about it."
Class A All-Tournament Team
|Mound Westonka||Goalie||Emma Polusny|
|Red Wing||Goalie||Ashley Corcoran|
|Red Wing||Forward||Emily Stegora|
|Red Wing||Forward||Nichole Schammel|
|South St. Paul||Defense||Lauren Wilcox|