On a night when overtime looked to be almost a certainty, New Ulm senior Aaron Pfaff decided to end the Section 3A championship game in regulation.
After nearly three periods of no scoring, Pfaff erased one of the zeroes on the board with 2 minutes, 25 seconds left in the third period. His goal gave the top-seeded Eagles a 1-0 victory over No. 3 Litchfield/Dassel-Cokato on Friday, March 4, at GustavusAdolphus College in St. Peter, and secured a state tournament berth.
Just four seconds prior, Litchfield senior Quinn Impola was whistled for a boarding penalty, and before the face-off New Ulm called a time out.
Eagles head coach Erik Setterholm said the time out was used more to settle his players down than to do any strategizing.
"Last week we changed up our positioning on the power play after struggling with it the past few weeks,” Setterholm said. “I told the guys, find the puck, hit the net.
"I knew this would probably be our one shot to score and we needed to take advantage."
Litchfield goalie Ryan Koivisto had several acrobatic saves and looked to be an impenetrable wall until the lone goal late in the game.
New Ulm outshot Litchfield 26-16.
This will be the Eagles second-straight trip to the state Class 1A tournament. They will try to improve on their 2010 quarterfinal showing when they lost to eventual champion Breck 11-1.