EAST GRAND FORKS -- East Grand Forks Senior High forward Cooper Holm wasn't even sure how the most important goal in the Minnesota Section 8A championship game happened.
"I was in shock," the junior said. "I thought it went over the net. I looked in the net and it was in, so I threw my hands in the air."
Holm's goal on a 2-on-1 rush as two players went sliding into Warroad goalie Zach Foster in the third period was the catalyst of a 3-1 Green Wave victory on Thursday night at the Civic Center.
The Green Wave, who lost in the section final last year, are headed back to the Minnesota state tournament next week at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. The Green Wave, who won state titles in 2014 and 2015, get back to state for the fifth time since 2013.
"It's everything," Green Wave sophomore forward Landon Parker said. "Ever since the loss last year, we've had one thing on our mind and that's the X."
The Green Wave and the Warriors were scoreless through two periods before Parker scored on a rebound. He went five hole 1:01 into the third period to make it 1-0.
"I liked the way we stayed with it," said East Grand Forks coach Tyler Palmiscno, whose team split with Warroad during the regular season. "I thought in the second period we started to take over the game but at the end of the second it's still 0-0, and we threw everything but the kitchen sink at them. Their goalie was fantastic.
"It would've been easy to stray from our game and been frustrated, but we finished some plays in the third."
With 2:52 remaining in the third period, Holm scored on the wild play at the net to make it 2-0.
"I saw (Jackson Galstad) chip it off the glass and Carter (Beck) distracted them and I buried it," Holm said.
But the Warriors weren't finished. Warroad's Grant Slukynsky cut the lead to 2-1 with 1:49 remaining. It was the first goal Senior High had given up in the section tournament.
"East Grand Forks played hard and made it hard on us in all three zones," Warroad coach Kyle Hardwick said. "They didn't give us time and space to make plays.
"I don't think we had enough guys who wanted the puck on their stick and games like this you have to have guys who want to make plays. When we did have the puck, we were looking to get rid of it or make it someone else's problem. You need to take the bull by the horns. We didn't make enough plays and generate enough shots."
East Grand Forks' Jake Helle scored an empty-net goal from the blue line with 47 seconds to go to ice the win.
Senior High, which lost four of its last six games of the regular season, improved to 20-8-0, while Warroad dropped to 15-10-2.
"It's unreal and surreal, but I don't think we're done," Holm said.
EGF Senior High 3,
Third period—1. EGF, Landon Parker (Mason Poolman, Trey Ausmus) 1:01; 2. EGF, Cooper Holm (Ausmus) 14:08; 3. W, Grant Slukynsky (Blake Norris, Tyrus Culleton) 15:11; 4. EGF, Jake Hjelle (Luke Vonesh) 16:13
Goalie saves—W: Zach Foster 6-11-8—26; EGF: Tucker Brown 4-5-2—11