Benilde enjoying heartfelt cheers

  • Article by: RACHEL BLOUNT , Star Tribune
  • Updated: March 10, 2012 - 12:49 AM

The Catholic school is in the unusual position of getting widespread support due to "Jabby."

hide

Dan Labosky of Benilde-St. Margaret's skated in on Lakeville South goalie Tyler Schumacher and scored a first-period goal in a Class 2A semifinal Friday night.

Photo: Bruce Bisping, Star Tribune

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

About an hour before his Lakeville South team faced Benilde-St. Margaret's in a Class 2A semifinal on Friday, coach Kurt Weber looked at the red band on his wrist and chuckled. "I think even my wife is cheering for them,'' said Weber, who had not taken off the wristband worn in honor of injured Benilde forward Jack Jablonski.

Ken Pauly knew exactly what Weber meant. The Benilde coach is used to private schools being viewed as the villains at the boys' high school hockey state tournament, but the hockey world's mass support of Jablonski has diminished that. "We're enjoying the fact that the anti-private school cheers aren't as loud,'' Pauly said with a laugh. "There are still some diehards out there who are going to love Jabby and hate us, and that's fine.''

Both teams navigated what Weber called "a tender walk'' Friday, as Benilde overpowered the Cougars 10-1 to set up a title match Saturday against Hill-Murray. Since Jablonski was paralyzed in a game last December, Pauly has reminded his players that they cannot feel burdened by the public's wish for a storybook ending to the season. Lakeville South is among the many teams that have pulled and prayed for Jablonski, leading Weber to assure his players that beating Benilde would not make them the bad guys.

Friday's blowout -- coming on the heels of Thursday's last-minute victory over Edina -- added to the growing aura surrounding the Red Knights. They showed none of the stage fright that hampered them in the quarterfinals, scoring five goals in the first 15 minutes, 38 seconds.

Pauly expected them to be looser, and he knew they were eager to atone for a Thursday performance they felt was lacking. At this point, he said, his players have grown used to the high-wattage spotlight generated by Jablonski. They have learned how to keep him close without being overcome by emotion, putting them in position to play for their third state title and first in Class 2A.

"We've had the right perspective on it from the beginning,'' Pauly said. "The noise gets amplified the farther we go, and it isn't always easy. Every question asked goes back to Jack. But we don't hide from it. We embrace it.''

Friday's loss left another close-knit team short of its goal. Lakeville South star Justin Kloos could have chosen to refine his game in junior hockey or with the U.S. national team development program. But he stayed at his high school so he could continue to play with his best friends, Alex Harvey and Joe Freemark, and take another shot at a state championship.

Shortly after Jablonski's injury, the Cougars met to talk about it. They wore Jablonski wristbands and stickers on their helmets and had left messages on his CaringBridge page.

Weber asked them, too, to separate their feelings for Jablonski from Friday's mission on the ice. The best tribute they could pay, he said, would be to play as well as they could.

"[Benilde] has reason to be emotional,'' Weber said. "We feel the same passion for Jack that everyone else does, but at the same time, we know it's an honor to compete. The way you honor Jack and honor the game is to make sure his team competes against a really good team.''

The Cougars didn't come through as they hoped, leaving both Weber and his team empty as the Benilde students chanted "I believe in miracles'' and "We love Jabby.'' They will play for third place Saturday, as Benilde prepares for a game that carries even more emotional weight.

Pauly is well aware of the feeling of inevitability now surrounding the Red Knights. He knows that thousands of strangers have shed tears for a young hockey player they never met and have intently followed his rehabilitation. They desperately want the story to end the way it is supposed to, in triumph, with his teammates putting a state championship medal around his neck.

Pauly had tried to resist that feeling himself. Friday, he entertained the possibility, with one caveat: Whatever happens, it is merely the next chapter in his team's continuing story, and in Jablonski's.

"You do kind of wonder after a while,'' he said. "I think of what Samwise said to Frodo [in the "Lord of the Rings"]. He asked, 'What kind of adventure are we in?'

"I don't know what sort of adventure we're in. A happy ending, there's no such thing. There is no end to this.''

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Team Irvin 32 FINAL
Team Carter 28
Miami 96 FINAL
Chicago 84
Oklahoma City 98 FINAL
Cleveland 108
Dallas 106 FINAL
New Orleans 109
Indiana 106 FINAL
Orlando 99
LA Clippers 120 FINAL
Phoenix 100
Minnesota 100 FINAL
Atlanta 112
Detroit 110 FINAL
Toronto 114
Milwaukee 95 FINAL
San Antonio 101
Boston 111 FINAL
Golden State 114
Washington 117 FINAL
Denver 115
Houston 99 FINAL
LA Lakers 87
Team Toews 17 FINAL
Team Foligno 12
South Florida 53 FINAL
Connecticut 66
Boston College 64 FINAL
Georgia Tech 62
Virginia 50 FINAL
Virginia Tech 47
Indiana 70 FINAL
Ohio State 82
Stony Brook 61 FINAL
Binghamton 54
Cincinnati 56 FINAL
UCF 46
Maine 70 FINAL
Hartford 61
Monmouth 64 FINAL
Manhattan 71
Fairfield 67 FINAL
Marist 73
Rowan 48 FINAL
Princeton 96
St Bonaventure 48 FINAL
Rhode Island 53
Duke 77 FINAL
St Johns 68
Saint Peters 69 FINAL
Siena 55
Drake 40 FINAL
Wichita State 74
Vermont 61 FINAL
UMass Lowell 50
Seton Hall 57 FINAL
Butler 77
NJIT 72 FINAL
South Alabama 55
Northern Iowa 54 FINAL
Illinois State 53
Louisville 80 FINAL
Pittsburgh 68
UMBC 55 FINAL
Albany 69
Niagara 64 FINAL
Iona 87
Notre Dame 81 FINAL
NC State 78
Belmont 63 FINAL
Tennessee St 55
Creighton 50 FINAL
Villanova 71
Northwestern 67 FINAL
Maryland 68
Washington 56 FINAL
Utah 77
Senior-North 34 FINAL
Senior-South 13
Seton Hall 99 FINAL
Georgetown 85
St Johns 69 FINAL
Villanova 81
Arkansas 58 FINAL
Florida 72
Maine 56 FINAL
UMBC 42
Vanderbilt 55 FINAL
Alabama 52
Lafayette 60 FINAL
Lehigh 65
UCF 61 FINAL
SMU 57
Utah 51 FINAL
Washington 63
James Madison 73 FINAL
Coll of Charleston 53
Delaware 56 FINAL
Drexel 61
Hofstra 56 FINAL
William & Mary 57
Hartford 58 FINAL
Albany 82
Binghamton 54 FINAL
Stony Brook 67
Towson 63 FINAL
UNC-Wilmington 71
Wake Forest 80 FINAL
(17) Florida State 110
Georgia Tech 68 FINAL
Virginia 62
(22) Georgia 51 FINAL
(5) Tennessee 59
Drake 79 FINAL
Evansville 62
Iona 80 FINAL
Canisius 62
Fairfield 33 FINAL
Monmouth 59
Northwestern 75 FINAL
Penn State 76
Wisconsin 71 FINAL
Michigan State 77
Ohio State 79 FINAL
Purdue 71
Northern Iowa 57 FINAL
Indiana State 55
Butler 58 FINAL
Xavier 54
Creighton 93 FINAL
Marquette 75
Providence 42 FINAL
DePaul 90
Northeastern 77 FINAL
Elon 80
(2) Connecticut 96 FINAL
Cincinnati 31
Oregon 78 FINAL
Arizona 81
Bradley 46 FINAL
Loyola-Chicago 45
NC State 49 FINAL
(23) Syracuse 66
(7) Maryland 84 FINAL
Indiana 74
Illinois State 35 FINAL
Missouri State 58
Colorado 68 FINAL
Washington St 73
Tulane 45 FINAL
South Florida 64
(14) Kentucky 83 FINAL
Missouri 69
(9) Oregon State 68 FINAL
(13) Arizona State 57
Vermont 63 FINAL
UMass Lowell 72
Iowa State 58 FINAL
(8) Texas 57
Southern Ill 61 FINAL
Wichita State 80
(15) Duke 74 FINAL
(12) North Carolina 67
Miami-Florida 55 FINAL
(4) Louisville 68
(21) Minnesota 61 FINAL
(25) Rutgers 66
California 72 FINAL
UCLA 57
(11) Stanford 71 FINAL
USC 60

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: How optimistic are you about the 2015 Twins?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close