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Blake gets hard-earned win

By DAVID La VAQUE, Star Tribune, 02/14/13, 11:25PM CST


Bears edge Breck, which had defeated Blake three consecutive years in the section finals.

Blake players celebrated the first goal of the Class 1A, Section 5 championship game against Breck.

Blake's Dani Cameranesi and Breck's Kate Schipper, future Gophers women's hockey teammates, exchanged pleasantries at center ice before Thursday's Class 1A, Section 5 championship game -- then capped their current teams' rivalry in memorable fashion.

Each scored twice as Blake outlasted defending 1A state champion Breck in a wild 6-5 victory at the Parade Ice Garden in Minneapolis. Cameranesi got the final word with the eventual game-winning goal from the blue line in the third period.

"I hate to say it but I was just tossing it on net," said Cameranesi, who has scored 54 goals this season. "I saw it hit the post and go in and everybody celebrated."

It was Cameranesi's second goal of the third period. Her first goal put No. 2 Blake (19-5-3) ahead 4-2 just 22 seconds into the period.

Undaunted, Breck stormed back to score the next three goals.

Leah Schwartzman scored the Mustangs' first two goals. She tipped in Schipper's drive from the point and made it 4-3 and then scored again at 7:19 to tie the score at 4-4 on a feed from Schipper, the lone senior on a Mustangs team that improved all season.

Amanda Navratil gave No. 5 Breck (15-12-1) its first lead of the game at 10:24.

Did the Mustangs feel comfortable ahead 5-4? Not a chance, Breck coach Chris Peterson said. "You can never feel that way," Peterson said. "We were up but you knew they'd keep fighting."

Exactly two minutes later, Blake's Carly Bullock tied the score at 5-5 with her second goal of the night.

"We knew from the start it would be a close game," Cameranesi said. "We kept the mentality that we were always in the game."

Blake's victory avenged three consecutive Section 5 finals losses to Breck as the team qualified for its first state tournament since 2009, when Cameranesi was a starting eighth-grader. The Bears defeated Warroad for the Class 1A championship that year.

Blake's coach in that game, Brano Stankovsky, died in April at age 56 from stroke complications. Players wore patches on their jersey in tribute all season.

Cameranesi believes her former coach had a hand in Thursday's victory.

"After I scored, I felt something," Cameranesi said. "I'm pretty sure that was Brano looking down."