Cretin-Derham Hall struggled in first periods this season, senior and Mr. Hockey finalist Jake Fisher pointed out. But the Raiders showed a relentless forecheck early in Wednesday's section championship game against St. Thomas Academy.

That ended the first-period problem.

"We came out flying, and we kind of got them on their heels early," Fisher said. "I think that set the tone for the rest of the game."

The second-seeded Raiders' pressure resulted in a three-goal lead — thanks to a pair of goals from Fisher — by the first intermission on the way to a 4-2 victory over top seed St. Thomas Academy in the Class 2A, Section 3 title game for a spot in the boys hockey state tournament.

This will be the Raiders' fifth state tournament appearance and second in a row.

That first period was "by far" the best of the Raiders' season, Fisher said. Coach Matt Funk agreed.

Cretin-Derham Hall (18-9-1), ranked No. 11 in Class 2A in the latest coaches poll, came out with intensity from puck drop, peppering the Cadets goaltender with shots.

Freshman winger Max Anderson cleaned up a juicy rebound in front of the net on a power play for a 1-0 lead. Fisher and Anderson have played on a line together all season, and the freshman is extremely detailed, Funk said.

"He's just built different," Funk said. "He's wired different. He's a lot like Jake in a lot of ways."

Anderson's second goal, a shot along the half-wall with seven minutes to play, ended up being the backbreaker.

"I didn't even know it went in," Anderson said. "I just threw it on net and it bounced, went through the five hole."

Mike Randolph, the longtime coach in his first year with the No. 9-ranked Cadets (19-8-0), said his team chased the game all night.

"At the end of the day, like I told the guys, you can't give a team like that a three-goal lead," Randolph said. "The fourth goal sucked everything out of us."