The final horn sounded and sticks and gloves and helmets were heaved airborne. Goaltender Luke Olson suddenly found himself mobbed by jubilant teammates. Coach Bruce Plante was engulfed by his assistants in a celebratory mosh pit on the bench.
This wasn't your standard championship celebration, customary as some of the scenes might have been. No, this was a moment six years in the making. This was more than just joy.
This was relief.
This was No. 1-seeded Hermantown winning a state Class 1A championship after finishing second in the title game each of the previous six years, an unfathomable streak the Hawks finally halted with authority in a 5-0 victory over No. 2-seeded Breck (26-4-1) on Saturday at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.
"It's just a weight off your back after those six losses," said Olson, who watched five of the previous title games as a fan and last year's as the Hawks' starting goaltender. "To get this one out of the way, it's unbelievable."
Hermantown's dubious streak, unmatched in Minnesota high school championship history, started in 2010 with a 2-1 loss to Breck. The winning goal bounced off a Mustangs' player's shin pad in the closing minutes. The title games loss have come in similar, excruciating fashion ever since. Until Saturday.
The 67-year-old Plante, in his 27th season guiding the Hawks, said he's not sure he could have survived another loss.
"They probably would have taken me out of here in a straitjacket or something," Plante said. "It would have pushed me over the edge."
Some brilliant early saves by Olson allowed the Hawks (28-1-1) to shake their title-game jitters, and first-period goals by Cole Koepke, Jesse Jacques and James Lindberg gave them 3-0 cushion at the first intermission. Hermantown scored one goal in each of the final two periods.
"They have been here a lot and they couldn't close the deal," Breck coach Les Larson said. "You would think that would be in the back of their minds."
Hermantown defenseman Wyatt Aamodt, a Mr. Hockey award finalist who had two assists to go along with impeccable defensive play, said the pressure to end the streak was a noticeable burden.
"But we figured if we could get out there and jump on them early and pop a couple in and just keep rolling we would be fine," he said.
And so they were. Olson finished with 23 saves and five different players scored as Hermantown, ranked No. 1 in the state most of the year, completed the playoffs having outscoring its six opponents 52-6.