A high school hockey player taking a knee on the ice with tears flowing as he's comforted by teammates isn't an uncommon scene after a section championship game. Usually, it's a player on the losing side.

But Cretin-Derham Hall senior Colin Scanlan's emotions poured out after his team won the Class 2A, Section 3 championship with a 4-2 victory over St. Thomas Academy last week.

"It's every kid's dream to go to the state tournament in Minnesota," Scanlan said. "So, to have my brother, my best friend, not be there … to look up in the stands and to not see him there was just a little shattering."

His younger brother, Cormick "Mick" Scanlan, a sophomore on the Raiders' junior varsity hockey team, suffered a stroke Dec. 6. It was discovered that he had a rare and aggressive form of moyamoya disease, where "one of the main arteries to your brain gets blocked off," Colin said. Mick was hospitalized until he died Christmas Day.

Coming into the season, Colin hoped to have a big season on the stats sheet in his first year on varsity. His focus and perspective shifted in December.

"With all that happened … I was lucky to be able to use a sport that I grew up with as a way to escape the thing that feels truly unimaginable," Colin said.

The hockey rink was his refuge, and he didn't miss a practice or game this season, accumulating eight goals and 11 assists in 28 games. He'll suit up again when unseeded Cretin-Derham Hall faces No. 2 seed Maple Grove in Thursday's first Class 2A quarterfinal at Xcel Energy Center.

Hockey helped Colin battle through, even if his emotions sometimes spilled out onto the ice.

"You can just look up to him in a way, as he was such a good big brother, and he just loved him [Mick] so much," said Jimmy Dodig, a sophomore defenseman.

Colin referred to Mick as his "built-in best friend." They loved watching hockey, playing knee hockey in the basement or skating together anywhere they could find ice. Their competitive nature always challenged them to be the best against each other.

Mick was a three-sport athlete, also playing baseball and football. The brothers played a JV baseball game together for the Raiders last spring; baseball was Mick's favorite sport.

"We had so many similar interests that it was just like I was almost talking to myself," Colin said. "We were literally best friends."

Dodig called this hockey season "a whirlwind." He and Mick played on the St. Paul bantam hockey team last season before joining the Raiders' JV team this season; Dodig was later called up to varsity. The pair became fast friends last season when Dodig first enrolled at Cretin-Derham Hall.

"I didn't know anyone for CDH," Dodig said. "He was one of the first kids who opened his arms and welcomed me."

The two shared classes and bonded over athletics, especially baseball and hockey. Dodig called Mick "wise beyond his years" and said he always knew the right thing to say.

“With all that happened . . . I was lucky to be able to use a sport that I grew up with as a way to escape the thing that feels truly unimaginable”
Colin Scanlan

When Mick was in the hospital, his teammates united in prayer at school and sitting around Mick's hockey locker stall, where his jersey hung among a display of flowers and photos.

"It really hit our sophomores hard, obviously, because Cormick was one of them," Raiders coach Matt Funk said.

The Raiders hoped to make a run toward the state tournament, after getting upset in last year's quarterfinals. But they went through a rough stretch near the end of January, losing five of seven games. That part of the season might have been when Mick's death really started to hit some of the team, Colin said.

"Every day, you'd go to the rink, and you'd walk past his stall, and he's not there," Colin said. "It hits everybody at different times. Everybody felt it, I know that."

Mick wore the No. 17 jersey, and the Raiders have adopted that as their lucky number this season. They wear No. 17 stickers on their helmets and say "play 17 hard," for the 17 minutes in a period, Funk said.

Cretin-Derham Hall boys hockey has one state championship banner displayed. How many years ago was that? Seventeen. The Raiders won in 2006.

"We brought up the No. 17 and how we're doing it for him," Dodig said. "We've got to go win another banner for 17."

Besides the No. 17 stickers, Colin and some of his teammates write Mick's initials on their sticks. Or some use green grip tape, Mick's favorite color.

"Seeing little stuff like that, it only makes me smile," Colin said. "It's just the constant show of support that I've gotten from my team and the whole community."

Funk talked with Colin after the initial on-ice celebration following the section final, telling him to live in the moment and let out his emotions.

" 'You did it. He's here with us,' " Funk said. " 'Trust your faith, and just keeping doing it. We got three more to give him a good send-off.' "

Extending their season into the state tournament feels especially good for the Raiders, Colin said, because they're playing in Mick's honor. They want to represent his legacy, Dodig said.

As Colin put it to his friends, they have the "why" for this tournament.

"Why we want it," Colin said. "I mean, it just really was hard to have one of my dreams come true and have the guy who's been next to me my whole life not be there."