Seeing their one-goal lead disappear early in the third period forced Centennial hockey players to call upon a year's worth of motivation.

The Cougars fell to Maple Grove last season in the Class 2A, Section 5 final and vowed to make things right if given the chance. And they did.

Same Crimson.

Same Aldrich Arena.

Same trip to state on the line.

Different outcome.

Centennial shattered the brief third period stalemate with three consecutive goals in a 6-4 victory. The No. 12 Cougars (19-6-3) return to state for the first time since 2014.

"It's a brotherhood, and we always have each other's back," senior forward Jack Menne said. "Growing up together we've always been winners. We just knew."

Tyler Kostelecky tied the score 3-3 with his second goal of the contest and Maple Grove (13-12-3) felt energized.

"Momentum was good at that point, and if we popped the next one, the game changes," Maple Grove coach Todd Bergland said. "But we knew Centennial would never stop competing against us."

Cougars' players knew it, too. They responded early and often. Will Francis restored a 4-3 lead less than one minute later. And goals scored just 38 seconds apart from Hayden Brickner and Lucas McGregor made it 6-3.

"We just kept grinding and we wanted it more than they did," Brickner said.

Centennial entered Thursday's game having not allowed a goal in 14 consecutive periods. Matt Jaglo opened the scoring to give Maple Grove a 1-0 lead. By period's end, Centennial drew even. The teams would be tied twice more.

After last season's loss, Menne said he went home and shot pucks for an hour. On Thursday, he showed the work and motivation paid off.

"We were going to avenge that loss and we did it tonight," Menne said.