In a 1-1 game with time winding down, top-seeded Monticello senior defenseman Jack Saunders tried to use the momentum from a power play to his advantage. So he sent a point shot through traffic with 3:48 on the clock against second-seeded North Branch.
"I just saw my teammates celebrating," Saunders said. "So I just thought, 'Hey, let's go. It's a big goal.'"
He scored the game-winner for Monticello in a 3-1 victory over the Vikings in the Class 1A, Section 5 final Thursday at Elk River Ice Arena.
His teammate Jeff Henrikson scored his second goal of the game with two minutes to play before the Moose added an empty-netter with 5.1 ticks left.
Monticello coach Eric Nelson saw a "complete team effort" from his squad, especially in a tight game.
"The biggest part was just to keep playing and keep pushing, keep getting after pucks and getting them deep," Nelson said.
The Moose (19-7-2) return to the state tournament for the second time. Last year's co-op Monticello/Annandale/Maple Lake finished as the Class 1A runner-up.
For the Vikings (22-6), the loss ends their 10-game winning streak. Three of their six losses this season were to Mississippi 8 Conference rival Monticello.
Thief River Falls 4, East Grand Forks 0: Brady Anderson recorded a natural hat trick and Nick Corneliusen recorded the shutout to lead the fourth seeded Prowlers past the second seeded Green Wave in the Class 1A, Section 8 final.
Alexandria 3, St. Cloud Cathedral 2 (2OT): Jack Westlund scored a power-play goal 2:55 into the second overtime to give the third-seeded Cardinals the victory over the top-seeded Crusaders in the Class 1A, Section 6 final. Caleb Strong and Jakob Stender gave the Cardinals a 2-0 lead in the second period.