Minnetonka waited eight long years, and on Wednesday, two excruciating overtimes, for a return to the state tournament.
Top-ranked Minnetonka outlasted Holy Family Catholic of Victoria for a 5-4 double overtime victory in the Class 2A, Section 2 championship game in the second game of a doubleheader at 3M Arena at Mariucci. The Skippers return to state for the first time since 2010.
Junior defenseman Josh Luedtke took the lead role on the final goal. He darted into the slot, made a slick move to get space and fired high over goalie Conan Hayton.
An injury forced him to miss several weeks of the season. He didn't miss on his chance in the season's biggest game.
"I was just following the play and hoping for the best," Luedtke said. "I made that move and looked far side. I knew I had him and it was a great feeling."
His goal at 11:33 sealed a game Minnetonka (24-2-2) dominated in terms of pressure. The Skippers outshot Holy Family 57-21.
The teams scored a combined six goals and drew even three different times in a furious third period. Minnetonka sophomore Teddy Lagerback tied it for the third time at 4-all with 3.2 seconds left. John Simon had put the Fire (23-4-1) ahead 4-3 on the power play with 2:58 to play.
"I looked up at the clock with around 10 seconds left and I kind of saw our season flash before my eyes," Luedtke said. "I took a shot, it got blocked and it was a great play by Teddy."
The late goal failed to unnerve Holy Family, which battled through both overtimes and created chances.
"We needed to get pucks to the net and get a lucky bounce," Fire coach Noel Rahn said. "It was a heck of a hockey game and two teams left it all out on the ice."
Edina 8, Wayzata 1: Two consecutive years of playoff defeats at the Trojans' hands were more than enough to fuel the Hornets in the Class 2A, Section 6 championship game.
No. 2-ranked Edina (26-2) built a 3-0 first period lead on goals from Demetrios Koumontzis, Ben Brinkman and Max Borst. The early surge flipped last season's script, when Wayzata scored 25 seconds into the game and ultimately upset second-ranked Edina 3-1.
"Losing to them last year was probably one of the worst days of my life," junior forward Mason Nevers said. "We've been waiting for this game. It was 365 days in the making."
Urgency carried over to the second period as Nevers scored just 40 seconds into the frame. His goal was Edina's fourth on just eight shots.
"I think that really deflated them," said senior forward Sammy Walker, who had four assists. "And even after that we just kept coming."
Colin Schmidt got Wayzata's goal on a shot from just inside the blue line, cutting Edina's lead to 4-1. But the Hornets closed the period with three goals in five minutes. Jett Jungels, who skates on the Walker-Nevers line, scored twice on the power play.
No. 7 Wayzata (16-11-1) was the two-time defending section champion.