Duluth, MN (Northland's NewsCenter) --- The Duluth Marshall boy's hockey team was a staple at the state tournament in the mid-2000s, making four straight trips from 2005-2008.
"We're trying to restore that tradition," Hilltoppers head coach Brendan Flaherty said, "and the kids understand that."
"The past teams have been great, and I think we have some of the same components they did," Duluth Marshall senior defenseman Zach Isaacson said. "We work hard, and we bring it every day."
To make the trip this year, the Hilltoppers will have to beat Hibbing-Chisholm, a team making its 10th straight appearance in the 7A championship.
"It's going to be an exciting game," Hilltoppers senior forward Steve Long said. "They'll come ready to play. They've got Adam Johnson, and the rest of the team is good players, so it's going to be interesting."
"Hibbing has a nice team this year," Flaherty said. "They've won some big games, and I'm sure it will be a great game."
As with all great games, the buildup to this one has tested the nerves of all involved.
"Everything is ramped up at playoff time," Flahert said. "The kids are nervous. The coaches are even a little nervous."
"I've never played in a section final in my whole high school career," Hilltoppers senior forward and Mr. Hockey finalist Judd Peterson said, "so I don't know what it's going to feel like, but I am sure the nerves will hit once the game starts."
The 'Toppers do have something, though, that they hope will help them to this year's state tournament. The entire team dyed their hair blonde for the postseason push.
"Last year, we just stayed plain for playoffs," Peterson said. "This year, we wanted to change it up, all go blonde."
"It was mainly about team unity," Long said. "We wanted to be one going into playoffs and potentially the state tournament."
"The biggest part was just coming together as a team," Isaacson said, "and not letting anything get in between us."
The Section 7A championship game was postponed on Wednesday due to bad weather conditions and will be played at 2:00 p.m. on Saturday at AMSOIL Arena in Duluth.