White Bear Lake out to snap 0-18 streak in State Hockey openers

March 07, 2019 01:30 AM

White Bear Lake first went to State Hockey in 1945.  Since then, they've made 18 State Tourney appearances with an almost impossible-to-imagine run of losing in their first game every time.  The Bears are 0-18 all-time in the first round of they State Tournament - but the 2019 Bears squad intends to snap that drought in appearance #19.

As remarkable as the streak itself is, it's compounded by the fact the Bears' last seven State Quarterfinal losses have all been by a single goal - including an overtime loss and a double overtime loss.

Click the video box on this page to see KSTP Sports' story with White Bear Lake head coach Tim Sager and former Minnesota Wild player and White Bear Lake-grad Ryan Carter discussing what they hope is the end of the Bears' hard-to-fathom history at State Hockey

The Bears beat archrival Hill-Murray in their Section Final to advance to the 2019 State Boys Hockey Tournament.  They'll open Thursday morning against 2-seed Blaine in the Class AA Quarterfinal at 11:00 a.m.

RELATED: White Bear Lake downs rival Hill-Murray for first State Hockey bid since 2011

In his 17th season as the Bears head coach, Tim Sager has heard it all before.

"Everybody has talked about the jinx... the voodoo... whatever it is," Sager said.

This year's trip to State is the Bears' first since a heartbreaking double-overtime loss to Duluth East in 2011 - when today's high school seniors were 10 years old.  Sager insists there's no possibility of any carryover from the specter of the team's State Tournament past to the Bears players of the present.

"These kids are focused on the here and now," Sager said. "These millennials, you have to tell them about the history of things. I don't think they get into much of that.  They're into today.  They don't look back. We tell them about the history and the pride. We go through that every year. But the bottom line is, this is a new year a new team."

Former Minnesota Wild and White Bear Lake player Ryan Carter laughs when asked about the Bears historic run of bad luck a run he saw firsthand as a player in 2001.

"If you ask me - jinxes aren't real. But 0-18 is pretty miraculous. I've been there, I lost one,"Carter says, before pausing, laughing and reassessing his stance. "We lost a game we could've won. So... maybe it is the jinx - maybe I should think about that before I say jinxes aren't real."

Carter points out a possible bellwether for success - finally - for this year's edition of the Bears. "The kids are excited and the group they have - the sophomores and juniors -  won state as bantams," Carter said. "They know what it's like to play in big games and the've won before."

Carter's advice to his fellow Bears as the hit the ice this week?

"I noticed Friday (at the Section Final) there was excitement. I hope they can find a way to rally and use that excitement into Thursday's (State Quarterfinal) game," Carter said. "I don't want them to be nervous about what should be or could be… just play. Be excited to play. I mean, they're having the time of their lives."

===THE WHITE BEAR LAKE STREAK===

(All games are State Tournament Quarterfinals)

1945  Thief Rvr Fls  3   WBL   2    
1946     Roseau      2   WBL   1 OT
1949     Eveleth     6   WBL   0    
1951     Johnson     7   WBL   0    
1956     Eveleth     3   WBL   1    
1966    S St Paul    3   WBL   1    
1967     Hibbing     4   WBL   2    
1970     Hibbing     4   WBL   0    
1989     Denfeld     4   WBL   1    
1990     Roseau      5   WBL   1    
1994    Moorhead     7   WBL   3    
1995    Roch Mayo    5   WBL   4    
1996    S St Paul    3   WBL   2    
1998     Anoka       2   WBL   1    
2001    Moorhead     3   WBL   2 OT
2003    Roseville    4   WBL   3    
2005   Duluth East   3   WBL   2    
2011   Duluth East   4   WBL   3 2OT

(Credit: VintageMNHockey.com)

Watch the 2019 State Tournament on 45TV in the Twin Cities market or live stream for free on Prep45.com

Click here to check out scores, schedules and highlights at KSTP Sports State Hockey Tourney Central

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Chris Long

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