Eden Prairie sophomore Casey Mittelstadt made the state tournament an annual destination as a youngster, even sacrificing a few days of school along the way.
Battling nerves in warmups, Mittelstadt settled down and resumed his role as the Eagles' premier offensive weapon.
He scored the game's first goal and added another in the Eagles' 5-3 victory against Blaine.
"It's a big stage so I think it was nice to get one early and settle into the game," said Mittelstadt, who has committed to the Gophers.
Mittelstadt, who has 26 goals this season, and junior Michael Graham, who has 25, each scored twice for fifth-seeded Eden Prairie, which plays undefeated Lakeville North in Friday's semifinals.
"The only chance you have of winning a state tournament is if your top guys are playing big," said Eden Prairie coach Lee Smith, who led the Eagles to championships in 2009 and 2011. "Ours did tonight."
Mittelstadt batted a puck home for a 1-0 lead. No. 4 seed Blaine (22-6-1) answered as Riley Tufte scored on a breakaway with 57 seconds to play in the opening period.
The Eagles (19-9) built a 4-1 lead in the second period on two goals from Graham, bound for Minnesota-Duluth, and a second from Mittelstadt.
"We tried to bring the momentum back, but that didn't come until the third period," Tufte said.
The Bengals cut their deficit to 5-3 on third-period goals from Easton Brodzinski and Ryan McArthur.
DAVID La VAQUE