The Duluth East boys' hockey team hasn't shied away from talking about it. It's actually seemed more therapeutic than anything, talking through back-to-back Section 7AA championship losses to archrival Grand Rapids.
"The last two years have been devastating," senior Ian Mageau admitted, shaking his head. "I think this is our year."
Duluth East is the No. 1 seed in this year's section playoffs, yet the Greyhounds have still be playing as if there's something to prove. After wins over Grand Rapids and Duluth Marshall, Duluth East is outscoring its playoff opponents 17-1.
"Our kids came out ready to play," head coach Mike Randolph said. "I'm really happy with where we're at, and hopefully we can finish things off Thursday."
For the returners, that will require vanquishing some demons and putting behind them, once and for all, those back-to-back dramatic losses.
"Those were heart-wrenching defeats, one with six seconds left and one in double overtime against Rapids," Randolph said. "I think they're on a mission now to get back to the state tournament."
His players agree, specifically the seniors with just one more chance.
"That's what we're playing for, we've got to get there," Mageau said. "It's a dream as you grow up, and we're close."
The opponent Thursday will be Andover, a team Duluth East beat 9-3 in the regular season and one that hasn't played in the section title game since 2012. Thursday's game is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. at AMSOIL Arena.