St. Thomas Academy’s boys’ hockey team missed the past two Class 1A state tournaments, but the Cadets are picking up right where they left off.

Friday’s 5-0 defeat of Thief River Falls moves the No. 1 seed Cadets into Saturday’s championship game. They won titles in 2006 and 2008.

Thief River Falls nearly scored shorthanded early in Friday’s game, the puck deflected off the crossbar. From there, St. Thomas Academy gained the edge in play with superior team speed and skill.

But the Cadets did not have an easy path. The failed to convert on three power plays in the first period and the game remained scoreless until late in the period. A.J. Reid forced a Prowlers turnover at the blue line, then sent the puck to a streaking Zach Schroeder for a goal at 16:42.

Andrew Commers struck next for St. Thomas Academy with a goal at 8:13 of the second period to built a 2-0 lead.

And Alex Johnson made it 3-0 Cadets in the third period. He waited at the Prowlers blue line, looking back for a teammate before electing to take matters into his own hands and snapping a shot past goaltender Jon Narverud.