TAMPA, Fla. - The wait is over.
At long last, North Dakota is the King of College Hockey again.
UND emphatically won its eighth national championship - and first since 2000 - by dominating Quinnipiac 5-1 in front of 19,358 in Amalie Arena, washing away 15 years of heartbreak in the NCAA tournament.
Chants of "Let's go Sioux" and "Sioux forever" rang out from the crowd as the frustration of coming so close so many times in the national tournament finally turned to elation.
When the buzzer sounded, the coaching staff - led by rookie head coach Brad Berry - embraced on the bench as the players stormed the crease occupied by Cam Johnson.
They put on their championship shirts and hats and cut down the nets as the fans decked in green and white roared in the stands.
"I can't even put it into words," senior forward Bryn Chyzyk said. "It's all you want to do for this program because you love it so much. For my last game in this sweater, to hoist a national championship, it's amazing. I'll remember this day forever."
UND's CBS Line, which had dominated all year long served up one last grand finale, scoring three of UND's five goals.
Drake Caggiula, the Frozen Four's most outstanding player, had two of them, while Brock Boeser scored one. Austin Poganski and Shane Gersich each chipped in goals, while the Bobcats struggled to get one past netminder Cam Johnson.
The sophomore first-year starting goaltender only stopped 32 of 33 shots on the night. The only goal he allowed was a five-on-three power play.
"This trophy is bigger than just for our team," Johnson said as he sat next to it in his locker room stall. "It's for the whole community and the whole University of North Dakota.
"It's for all the incredible alumni and everyone who has been through our program and built it to what it is today."
Berry made college hockey history becoming the first rookie coach to win a national championship.
"On the bench, when the clock was ticking down and the hugs were coming, I really didn't have an emotion. I felt numb," Berry said. "You always think about this day and what you would feel like. Don't get me wrong, I was happy. But it's something that hasn't sunk in yet. It's very humbling to win this."
Once the players got back to the locker room, they immediately started watching videos and looking at pictures of fans celebrating in downtown Grand Forks.
"I can't wait to go to Joe Black's tomorrow," defenseman Troy Stecher said. "I'm going to go on a nice bender. We deserve it."
Chyzyk added: "I cannot wait to go back and bring this trophy back and celebrate with all the students and all the fans all week. We're coming."
UND had reached the Frozen Four eight times since its last title - 2001, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2011, 2014 and 2015 - only to fall short each time.
This team stated time and time again that it wanted to be the group to end that drought.
They openly talked about the goal. Their motto was written on the whiteboard in the locker room before the game: "Believe it. Earn it. Raise it." The number "8" also was written on it and circled.
"I don't know how to describe it," Caggiula said. "It's definitely the happiest moment of my life. It was an amazing journey this year. It all goes back to the first day I stepped on campus and everyone preaching 'national championship.' I finally got it in my last college game."
UND went through the tournament knocking out Northeastern and Michigan in the Midwest Regional in Cincinnati. Then, the Fighting Hawks -- in their first year with the new nickname -- came to Tampa and finished the job.
"Sixteen years is way too long for the Sioux," Stecher said. "Some people may think The Ralph is a curse and that we're too spoiled. But we're not spoiled. We go to work every single day. There's no harder working team than us. I can bet you anything on that."
UND was dominant from the start, scoring two goals in the first period.
Gersich got it started, hammering home a rebound of an Ausmus shot at 11:56. Just 2:20 later, Boeser scored shorthanded when Quinnipiac goalie Michael Garteig came out of the net to play a puck, but threw it off of the rookie forward, who put it into an empty net.
Quinnipiac's Tim Clifton made it a one-goal game with a five-on-three power-play goal late in the second, but UND buried the Bobcats in the third.
Nick Schmaltz set up Caggiula for a one-timer at 1:21. Then, Boeser set up Caggiula on a rush 2:21 later for a 4-1 lead. Poganski tacked on the final tally on a rebound at 10:41.
"It's pretty surreal right now," Schmaltz said. "It's probably going to take a few days to sink in and realize that we went out on top as national champions and that we're bringing it back to Grand Forks."
FIRST PERIOD: 1, UND, Gersich (Ausmus, Boeser), 11:56. 2, UND, Boeser, 14:16 (sh). 3, QUI, T. Clifton (C. Clifton, St. Denis), 18:53 (pp).
SECOND PERIOD: No scoring.
THIRD PERIOD: 4, UND, Caggiula (Schmaltz, Boeser), 1:21. 5, UND, Caggiula (Boeser, LaDue), 3:41. 6, UND, Poganski (Gardner, Ausmus), 10:41.
SAVES: UND, Johnson 12-9-11–32. QUI, Garteig 14-9-8–31.