Blaine junior forward Carsen Richels had his chances as teammates cycled the puck to him on early power plays against Maple Grove. He finally scored with 10 minutes, 19 seconds left in regulation during a tie game.
"I had a lot of shots all game, a lot of them weren't getting through," Richels said. "And then finally at the end there, that one squeezed upstairs. Big goal."
Richels' team-leading 39th goal gave No. 3-ranked Blaine a 2-1 victory over the No. 6-ranked Crimson in the Class 2A, Section 5 boys' hockey championship Thursday at Aldrich Arena.
After three consecutive seasons of section semifinal losses to Maple Grove, Blaine finally got past the Crimson.
The Bengals fell behind only 17 seconds into the game on a Crimson goal from sophomore Sam Jacobs.
"It's a bummer to give up a goal that quick," Blaine goaltender Joe Daninger said. "All of us stayed calm. We didn't get rattled."
Blaine senior forward and Mr. Hockey finalist Bryce Brodzinski tied the score four minutes into the second period with his 35th goal of the season.
The Bengals, who have won 17 consecutive games, made adjustments throughout the game as Maple Grove (21-4-1) shadowed Brodzinski. They moved him to the middle, "which opened up a lane for Carsen," Blaine coach Chris Carroll said.
"In the second period, he [Carsen] had some looks, too," Carroll said. "He just missed it. So finally got another look, and he hit that one."