Stillwater's Noah Cates, driving and then spinning toward the Hill-Murray goal, scored at 3:58 of overtime to give the Ponies a 1-0 victory and the Class 2A, Section 4 championship.

No. 1 seed and second-ranked Stillwater (26-1-1) edged the No. 2 seed Pioneers (17-9-2) to secure its second state trip in three seasons.

Stillwater's victory added to an already revamped tournament field. Not since 2001 have state stalwarts Duluth East, Edina and Hill-Murray all missed the cut.

The goal from Cates started with a pass from Gavin Holland. From the Ponies' defensive zone, Holland lobbed a pass toward Cates as he entered the Hill-Murray zone.

"The 125-foot saucer pass, 35 feet in the air? That one?" Stillwater coach Matt Doman said.

Yes, that one. Cates caught the puck, drove to the net, spun around a Pioneers defender and slipped the puck past Hill-Murray junior goalie Jake Begley.

"I practice that all the time, hoping it's going to work, and it did," Cates said. "It's ­unbelievable."

Hill-Murray coach Bill Lechner even conceded: "It was amazing."

The pretty play stood in contrast to a physical, grinding effort from both teams.

Stillwater appeared to take a 1-0 lead at 9:23 of the third period. After the goal, Begley emerged from a scrum livid. His protest that the net came off its moorings before the puck went in carried him all the way to the blue line.

Officials conferred with the goal judge and ruled no goal.

The game's first penalty went against Stillwater with 1:46 to play in regulation.

"Before the third period I said, 'We're going to face some adversity,' " Doman said. "The kids did a nice job staying even keel."

Aldrich Arena, capacity 3,400, sold out about 4 p.m., three hours before puck drop. Former Minnesota Wild coach Mike Yeo was on hand to watch son, Kyler, a Hill-Murray junior forward.