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The Curse continues for White Bear Lake

By Loren Nelson, Legacy Hockey, 03/08/24, 12:00AM CST


Bears lose 20th straight quarterfinal in as many appearances, a streak that dates to 1945

White Bear Lake lost its 20th state tournament quarterfinal in as many tries on Thursday, falling 2-1 to Grand Rapids. Photo by Jeff Lawler,

The Curse continues. With vigor.

Perhaps the most excruciating of White Bear Lake’s 20 state tournament quarterfinal losses in 20 tries came on Thursday at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.

A ray of hope beamed down on White Bear Lake in the form of a tying goal from Jack Stanius with 1:34 remaining. Stanius had rung a shot off the crossbar earlier in the third period, so maybe the hockey gods were, indeed, smiling on the Bears on this night.

But The Curse does not go away easily, nor does Grand Rapids, and the Thunderhawks got a goal from Nathan Garski with 1.6 seconds left to earn a 2-1 state Class 2A quarterfinal victory at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.

White Bear Lake’s streak of quarterfinal losses begins with the Bears first appearance in 1945, the inaugural state tourney.

“I mean the quarterfinal thing isn’t a thing for us,” first-year White Bear Lake coach Chris Anderson, a former standout player for the Bears, said. “We don’t think about it. We don’t talk about it.”

Will Shermoen’s goal put Grand Rapids ahead 1-0 4:04 into the first period. And then the chess match commenced. Both teams were stingy defensively and, when called upon, Grand Rapids’  Carter Casey and White Bear Lake’s Leo Gabriel were rock solid in goal.

“I think everybody predicted a one-goal game, and at the end of the day, that’s what it was,” Anderson said. “We just needed to find one more there at the end.”

Instead it was Grand Rapids that beat the clock for the winning goal.

“Just a quick a look up at the clock and I guess the puck came to me,” Shermoen said. “I wasn’t really sure, there was like one second left, but just slid the puck over and my buddy Nate tucked her home.”

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