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Minnesota High School Hockey Tournament: Champions Crowned

The Tourney is over, but the history will live on forever. As was promised when we started this journey, the Minnesota State High School Hockey Tournament offered excitement, upsets, story lines, rivalries… everything a great hockey tournament should have. In the end, two champions were crowned, and the crowds dispersed.

This version of The Tourney will go down in the annals of lore to be relived for decades to come.

The Class A bracket played out much the way it was supposed to. There were no upsets, and in the end, Saint Thomas Academy defended their state title, defeating Hermantown 5-1. Hermantown was the #1 seed, but STA just happened to be the #2. This was the first loss Hermantown experienced across the entire season.

Not to take away from the accomplishments of the Cadets of STA, but the story of the night, perhaps of the year, was about to finish its fairy tale ending at the Xcel Energy Center.

The Class AA championship featured two schools with a history of success in the state tournament in Hill Murray and Benilde-St. Margaret’s. One team, however, had fate on their side. With injured player Jack Jablonski in the building, the Red Knights capped their campaign for “Jabs” and brought home the championship in honor of their teammate.

If that wasn’t enough of a story, there’s more.

The final score of the Class AA championship was 5-1. All five, yes all five, goals were scored by the same player for BSM. Junior (yes, junior) Grant Besse scored every goal for the Red Knights. A performance for the ages, to be sure. Five goals in a championship game is pretty impressive. Scoring all five for the team adds to the thrill.

The fact that three of them came while shorthanded? That’s just ridiculous.

Yes, Besse scored five goals, including the shorthanded hat trick, to lead his team to a state championship in honor of a fallen teammate. If Disney doesn’t have this movie made by June, someone needs to be fired. Someone needs to call the folks in Brainerd and let them know that Paul Bunyan is getting a new neighbor.

The only downer on the whole scene? Jablonski was not allowed on the ice to celebrate with his teammates due to high school league rules. He received a championship medal, as he was a part of the team, but was not on the ice for the perfect ending to a perfect story.

The Red Knights finished on their own terms, however, forgoing tradition, and taking the championship team photo in the locker room so they could include all of their teammates.

Time for the State of Hockey to take a collective breath. The Tourney is an event by itself. With the stories that were written this year, the 2012 tournament will be relived by children not even born yet.

Congratulations to each and every player who participated in the tournament, and especially to the Saint Thomas Academy Cadets and Benilde-St. Margaret’s Red Knights.

SB Nation’s Hockey Wilderness is covered each sessions individually, so be sure to check there early and often for all of your tournament needs. We also posted updates here at SB Nation Minnesota in our StoryStream for the Minnesota State High School Hockey Tournament.

Photographs by Micah Taylor, clairity, and Fibonacci Blue used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.