Before Thursday, Breck senior defenseman Milica McMillen had played in the Class 1A state tournament three out of a possible four times.
Her urgency to make it four out of five was contagious. No. 1 Breck scored the game's first five goals in a 5-2 victory against No. 5 Blake in the Section 5 championship game at Parade Ice Garden.
McMillen and junior forward Kate Schipper each scored a goal in the game's first six minutes. A deflected puck shot by McMillen dribbled into the Blake zone, and Schipper pounced. She scored on a wrist shot just one minute and 34 seconds into the game.
Schipper returned the favor by finding McMillen in the high slot. Her shot made it 2-0 at 5:55. Anna Zumwinkle added a third goal.
"We talked about coming out and putting them down right away," McMillen said.
The Mustangs (24-2-1), who have beat Blake in three out of the past four section finals, went back to work in the second period. Goals from Schipper, who made a great move to fool Blake goalie Tori Johnson, and Leah Schwartzman made it 5-0.
Then Blake's Dani Cameranesi answered with two goals in a little less than two minutes. Her second came on the power play, with Schipper and McMillen in the penalty box. She finished the season with 48 goals.
The emotional lift was welcomed for the Bears (15-12-1). Coach Brano Stankovsky suffered a stroke Monday evening and missed the Bears' section playoff semifinal and final games.
Blake activities director Jim Lindsay said Thursday afternoon that Stankovsky, 56, had "made significant improvement in the past 24 hours" and moved out of intensive care. A banner reading "This One's for Brano!" hung in a corner near the Blake student section.
"The girls are doing fine," assistant coach Dave Cole said. "We started a little slow, and Breck capitalized on our tentativeness."
DAVID LA VAQUE
Class 1A, Section 1
Red Wing 5, New Prague 2: Nicole Schammel continued her torrid postseason pace, scoring three goals to lead the Wingers to their third section championship in four years. Schammel, a sophomore, had six goals in Red Wing's semifinal victory over Waseca.
Class 2A, Section 7
Grand Rapids/Greenway 2, Elk River/Zimmerman 1 (4 OT): Despite being the No. 2 seed in the section, Grand Rapids played host to top seed Elk River due to a section schedule that rotates between sites each year. And the home ice advantage finally paid off as Molly Illikainen broke a 1-1 tie with a goal in the fourth overtime to send Grand Rapids to the state tournament for the third time in team history.