From the days of drawing up plays in the dirt, coaches and players have used letters and symbols to motivate and teach.
But last Saturday, as Lakeville South readied to take on Moorhead in the Class 2A boys' hockey third-place game, Kurt Weber left the cap on his dry-erase board marker. No quotes from Vince Lombardi or Herb Brooks, no X's or O's or lines of arrows.
Just a blank white board, clean as the freshly wetted ice.
"You have a choice," Weber explained later. "You can wipe yesterday out of your memory or you can choose to worry about yesterday."
In this case, the Cougars as a whole wiped their yesterday clear out of Xcel Energy Center and watched it wash down the Mississippi River.
Gone were the memories of a bruising 10-1 state semifinal loss to eventual champion Benilde-St. Margaret's the night before. Lakeville South regrouped in a big way, defeating Moorhead 2-1 in the third-place game.
Lakeville South went 0-2 without scoring a goal in its previous state tournament appearance in 2008.
"It's really a nice way to finish," Weber said. "It takes some of the sting away, but I told them they have to remember [the semifinals]. Things were pretty wild here."
Before they could blink, the Cougars fell behind 5-0 to the Red Knights in the semifinals. Whatever motivation Lakeville South had from upsetting No. 1 seed Duluth East in the quarterfinals was history.
It makes returning home with some hardware all the more impressive.
"The maturity of this group of not accepting anything less, to come back after a loss shows a hell of a lot of character," Weber said. "It shows me their focus and determination and that [was] the difference."
Justin Kloos, who was named Mr. Hockey on Sunday, had a goal and an assist in the third-place game. He finished the season with 103 points.
Brian Stensaas • 612-673-4127