Laila Anderson wins championship 2

Back in 2019, St. Louis Blues superfan Laila Anderson helped the team raise the Stanley Cup – literally – after its first-ever championship run.

She was 10 years old at the time, fighting a potentially fatal disease called hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis (HLH).

The Blues rallied around her throughout her fight, and she quickly became a major inspiration for the players as they battled in the playoffs. She even got to join the players on the ice after their Game 7 victory to clinch the title.

Fast forward five years, to March 3 of this year, and Anderson – now healthy – is lifting a championship trophy of her own.

Playing on the Chesterfield Lady Falcons U14 youth hockey team in Missouri, Anderson won the Blue Note Cup, or, as she described it, “The Stanley Cup of youth hockey.”

“It was honestly a dream come true,” Anderson said. “To start where I did and the condition I was in, to five years later winning a title that even has the Blues in it, since it’s the Blue Note Cup. … Because of our connection, it’s like a written storybook. It’s magical.”

To add to the magical story, the now 15-year-old scored the game-tying goal in the semifinal game to help her team earn a spot in the final.

It was her first-ever goal.

Anderson has been playing hockey for four years, she said, but going into that semifinal game had yet to find the back of the net. So before the game, she talked with her best friend and teammate, Libby, about scoring that day.

“So when I scored and she was out on the ice, it was just a magical moment for the both of us,” Anderson said. “The fact that we had talked about it beforehand and the fact that it had happened at such a crucial moment – I can’t even put it into words.”

After Anderson’s team advanced to the final and eventually won the championship, one of the first people she reached out to was Blues defenseman Colton Parayko, who she became very close with during that 2019 Stanley Cup run.

She texted him after the semifinal and after the championship game to update him on her team’s successes.

“I could almost hear his voice through the text messages,” Anderson said. “They were all in capital letters.”

“It just makes me happy,” Parayko said at practice this week. “It puts a smile on my face. She's a tough kid. Just a really cool story she has that she's living.”

Although Parayko hasn’t had the chance to watch her play in-person yet, he has watched some highlights (including her goal in the semifinal) and tries his best to keep in touch. He said the two will occasionally grab a cup of coffee together to catch up.

“Obviously just fortunate to have that relationship with her,” Parayko said. “She's come a long way and it really makes you happy and puts a smile on your face just to see what she's been through, where it's been and how far she's come. Now she's playing hockey and winning tournaments. It's just exciting. Just super proud of her and happy for her.”

As for Anderson, her hockey career is far from over. After she spends her week with the Blue Note Cup (yes, just like the NHL players get to do with the Stanley Cup) she’ll shift her focus to the spring season of hockey, then she’ll be ready to graduate to the 16U team in the fall.

“[Hockey] is my favorite thing in the whole world,” Anderson said. “So I don’t see myself stopping anytime soon. … Right now it’s the highlight of my day.

“I am forever grateful and thankful for the St. Louis Blues organization and for the NHL,” Anderson added. “Y’all really picked me up during my darkest time and I’m so blessed to now lace up my own skates and have my own opportunity to go out and win a title. It really just puts the bow on the present.” independent correspondent Lou Korac contributed to this report