Lakeville South's Henry Welsch might have had his best game of the year in the Class 2A, Section 1 boys' hockey championship Thursday night at the Burnsville Ice Center.

Then again, it was just business as usual for the senior goaltender, who turned away 46 shots in the Cougars' 4-0 victory over Lake- ville North.

"I have my best game every game," he said, smiling and soaking in the "MVP" chants from classmates, teammates and parents swarming in excitement around South's latest state tournament entrant.

Welsch's smile stood in stark contrast to last season's disappointment after a loss to Lakeville North in the section final. "This is just so much better," he said.

Sophomores Cameron Boche and Cade Ahrenholz each scored first-period goals, when the Cougars (14-12-1) put 13 shots on Panthers starting goaltender Will Johnson, and each scored empty-net goals in the game's last 2½ minutes.

"We wanted to set the tone early and throw a lot of pucks on net," said Ahrenholz, who now has seven of his season's 15 goals in three playoff games.

For Lakeville North (15-13), which was playing in the Section 1 championship for the 14th consecutive season, it was a frustrating end to a sometimes frustrating season filled with injuries.

"It's good to get guys back, but when they're playing at 50 or 60 percent, it's no fun for anybody," Panthers coach Trent Eigner said. "But we had a full roster [Thursday]. Hats off to South. They played a good game."