Benilde-St. Margaret's forward Grant Besse, sporting his new gloves, celebrates a first-period goal against Hill-Murray on Saturday.
Poke around any NHL locker room and underneath the freshly-stitched game sweaters you'll find some of the game's premier players looking like a tattered extra from "Slap Shot."
A player's equipment wears down over time, but many refuse to change it up. Hockey players are among the most superstitious in sports.
Benilde-St. Margaret's junior Grant Besse had a moment of panic leading up to the state Class 2A tournament when he nearly tore the thumb out of one of his favorite gloves. And he was told the team was out of new ones.
"I was freaking out," he said.
Red Knights coach Ken Pauly said Besse wasn't about to wear an old pair, and the search began. Eventually, a call to an equipment rep put Besse in touch with a fresh set of Detroit Red Wings-issue gloves, the same color as Benilde-St. Margaret's. They arrived a day before the Class 2A tournament began.
All Besse did in his first three games with his new mitts was score eight goals -- five in the championship game, including three shorthanded -- to lead Benilde- St. Margaret's to the title.
"He said to me afterward, 'Hey, I guess those gloves work,' " Pauly said. "And I told him I think it was the hands inside those gloves."
Besse's magic capped an overly emotional season for the Red Knights. Since Jack Jablonski was severely injured in a JV game over the holidays, leaving him paralyzed, Benilde-St. Margaret's players rallied around their friend.
While emotion no doubt played a huge part, Besse and the rest took over with talent.
"I think what gets lost in all this is that this is a very talented hockey team," Pauly said. "I watched a bunch of guys in front of me really grow in a million different ways as young men, in terms of caring about someone else and not just putting words to it, but putting action to it."