As the clock wound down on St. Thomas Academy's 3-1 victory over Eastview in the Class 2A, Section 3 championship, the Cadets threw their sticks and gloves in the air at Ridder Arena.
They've been here before.
But yet, they never have.
With the victory, the Cadets advanced to their first Class 2A state tournament. St. Thomas won three consecutive state titles from 2011-13 in 1A before jumping up a class.
"This is a great feeling, but we're only halfway there and we've got three more games to play," Cadets senior forward Peter Tufto said.
Though the Cadets were heavily favored, it was Eastview that took the first lead. Forward Tommy Hutsell capitalized on a rebound, knocking a hard shot into the left side of the net 8:08 into the first period.
"They gave us a better game than we probably expected, and we were on our heels for a little bit," Tufto said.
But senior Alec Broetzman evened the score for the Cadets, picking off the puck and flicking in a backhander late in the first.
The Lightning hung close and though it played most of the game down a goal after Christiano Versich scored early in the second period, it never seemed out of it.
"You can't ask for anything more than … [giving] yourself a chance, [putting] yourself in a situation where you can maybe win that one," Eastview coach Drey Bradley said.
The Lightning did that, but Tufto, the Cadets' leading scorer, used his speed on a breakaway to seal the victory late in the third period.
"We've got a lot of seniors," Cadets co-coach Greg Vannelli said. "I think it was just our composure of our 12 seniors just willing to win it."
Lakeville North 6, Farmington 1: In Rochester, Henry Enebak scored three goals and Jack Poehling scored two to pace the Panthers to their third consecutive Section 1 title.
Duluth East 5, Elk River 4 (2OT): In Duluth, Garret Worth's goal in the second overtime lifted the Greyhounds to their seventh consecutive state tourney berth. Ryan Peterson's goal for Duluth East with 4:16 remaining in the third period tied the score.