He played locally in Elk River, and his dad Jon watched. The two talked hockey, about the NHL, but then the conversations stopped when Blake was 10.

While running, Jon suffered a heart attack and died in 2010. He was 43.

"It was horrible," Tammi said.

A year later, Tammi met Grant Bischoff while getting her cabin appraised. Grant's wife, Jackie, also died in 2010, from cancer. The father of four stayed in touch with Tammi, who also has a daughter, Jordan, and in August 2012, the two married — morphing into a family of nine.

"We all have the same interests," Jered said. "We love golfing. We love being on the lake. We love hunting and fishing."

Still, it was a challenging time for Blake, adjusting to a different school and new friends after his family moved to Grand Rapids, and hockey helped with the transition. When he was feeling down, he'd find a stick.

"I think there's where I came to excel in my life," Blake said...

...His hockey IQ is an asset, but Blake can improve his strength. College hockey has a knack for helping with that, and the NCAA is Blake's next destination. He will be with the Gophers in 2018-19 and is already training on the University of Minnesota campus.

Blake is the latest in the family to join the program; his stepbrother Jake was a defenseman on the team until 2017, while Grant was a forward from 1987 to 1991 — eclipsing 20 goals in each of his past three seasons.