Sophomore Christi Vetter supplied two goals as the Panthers slowed crept away from Lakeville South in Section 1.
It took Christi Vetter three tries to find the correct pair of gloves among those littered on the ice following Lakeville North's 5-2 victory over Lakeville South for the Class 2A, Section 1 girls' hockey championship.
One thing Vetter had little trouble finding Thursday at the Four Seasons Centre in Owatonna was the back of the net.
The sophomore forward scored twice for the Panthers (22-5-1), including the game-winner while falling to her backside with 89 seconds to play in the second period to break a 2-2 tie.
"Not how I planned it but hey, it worked," Vetter said. "I was like, 'Go in. Please go in.' Just begging for it. When it did, I just wanted to cry. I don't think we were ever really comfortable."
But by the time Vetter's second goal of the game went in with 3:49 to play -- her fifth of the playoffs -- a celebratory sigh of relief from the Panthers' bench was evident. Especially after getting outshot by the Cougars (21-6-1) 32-19 in the game, including a two-shot effort during an early five-minute power play.
"We're a pretty happy bunch here," said coach Buck Kochevar, who suffered a serious head injury after an on-ice fall in practice during last year's playoffs and just last week was cleared to skate. "We've seen them play better, but we kept our composure. We did the little things."
Junior Ashley Kloncz had two goals and two assists for Lakeville North, back in the state tournament after a one-year absence.