Bears Best Benilde-St. Margaret's

by Pete Waggoner

Minneapolis, MN - Blake’s Gavin Best took a puck at the Benilde-St. Margaret’s blue line and broke in on Benilde-St. Margaret’s Red Knight goalie Carson Limesand.  As he began to accelerate into the Red Knight zone, he was tugged from the right arm and reeled in by the Red Knight defenseman who lost his stick at the line.  As the arm of the official went up, the entire crowd assembled at 3M Arena at Mariucci looked to see if both arms would cross over his head after the whistle blew, and without hesitation, up went both arms over his head.  

That simple decision and gesture determined the fate of 40 players' dreams and goals in one moment.  I

Best deposited the puck behind Limesand clinch the 4-3 win for the Bears who are headed to the State Tournament for the first time since 2008 and the 6th time overall.  It marks their first appearance since they jumped to the Class AA. 

A game of ebbs and flows saw the Red Knights fall in devastating fashion, one that will be debated for the ages.  What can’t be questioned is the play that Best made.  He had a plan and knew what to do with it.  With the ice having been played on for just about 25 minutes it had plenty of snow and ruts, he kept it simple and beat Limesand for the Section 6AA championship clinching goal. 

“It was awesome, my teammates were just telling me to breathe,” Best said.  “ I got back on the blue line, took a breath, my legs were shaking, I just kinda took it all in for a second and like  coach always says when you go in on breakaway always know what you are going to do.  Have a move in the back of your head and know what you are going to do.  If he gives it to you take it and if he doesn’t take what he gives you.  I had a move going in, saw it and it worked out.”

Blake Head Coach Rob McClanahan understood the nature of the call and the impact it had on the game, yet focused on the infraction.  “He was in clean and he got hauled down,” McClanahan said.  “It’s hard to argue that, I get it but you know Ken (Pauly) will probably argue,  you know what you don’t want a game determined by that.  But, that was pretty flaggarant.”  

Red Knight Head Coach Ken Pauly saw it differently and when asked if he had ever seen a penalty shot called on a play like that in a regular season or playoff game he firmly said, “It’s ridiculous, that’s what I think.  Never, I’ve never seen it.  Listen, honestly, here’s the fact, he swallowed the whistle in overtime.  He let checking from behind go, he let tripping on both sides, he swallowed it and let everything go.Has anyone seen a penalty shot in a section final?  He held him.  He kept him from the breakaway, that’s what happened.   If that’s the way the game was being called, I can accept it.   It’s a bitter pill to swallow, see a hell of a game and end like that.   It’s like Sweden won the Olympics.”

The Bears (22-6-0) grabbed the 1-0 lead in the first period on a goal by William Matzke.  They outshot the Red Knights (18-8-2) 10-3 for the first period.  The Red Knight pushed back for three goals of their own in the second frame and had leads of 2-1 and 3-2 on goals by Blake Mesenburg on the powerplay, Charlie Bischel, and Asher Connolly.  Blake’s second goal of the game was scored by Joe Miller that,at the time, tied the game at two. 

With a 3-2 lead in the third period, the Red Knights were far from closing the game out as the push back from Blake was impressive all game.  Will Svendahl tied the game at 3 early in the third period as both teams exchanged momentum swings and and scoring chances. 

It was a highly skilled game that was decided by a penalty shot goal.  Was it a penalty shot or wasn’t it?  It really doesn’t matter because who thought it was, mattered the most, and Best did something with the opportunity in finishing for the Bears.