The Provincial AAAA High School Hockey Championship banner belongs to the Steinbach Regional Secondary School.
Drew Heide's power play goal with .9 seconds left in the first period stood up as the winner as the Sabres defeated the Winnipeg High School Hockey League's Platinum Promotions Division champion Garden City Fighting Gophers 2-1 Monday night in front of over a hundred boisterous supporters of the team at Hockey for All Centre in Winnipeg.
"Amazing and electric," said the youngest Sabre after the awards presentation. "It was just unbelievable. Can't believe this many people came out. It was great to see."
The officials did not signal a goal when Heide beat Gophers netminder Evan Banera.
The two referees and two linesmen huddled behind the Garden City net and discussed the situation for a minute before giving Heide credit for the go-ahead goal.
"I saw the puck go around behind the net and I'm just thinking, gotta swing at it," said Heide. "Really glad I didn't take an extra second there. It was a really crazy moment."
Sabres captain Seth Bergman opened the scoring 8:25 into the first period.
Garden City defenseman Nixon Carriere potted a power play goal 90 seconds later.
Steinbach Regional goaltender Hunter Fehr shut the door the rest of the way and finished the night with 17 saves.
"The atmosphere in the place with all the fans, it's something I've never played in front of before. Just an amazing feeling all around," said Fehr.
The Fighting Gophers had one last chance for the equalizer with Banera on the bench for an extra attacker and the face-off in the Sabres zone with eight seconds left.
"I just told myself to keep calm," Fehr said. "The jobs not finished yet. The longest eight seconds of my life."
The grade 11 netminder was also named the tournament MVP.
"Just a great feeling. I worked really hard for this."
Seth Bergman, Mark Plett and Lucas Jolicoeur were selected Tournament All-Stars.
The Sabres, who lost out to Lord Selkirk in the WHSHL quarterfinals and then beat the Royals in a wildcard game to get into the field, are the first team from outside the city of Winnipeg to win the Provincial AAAA High School Hockey Championship since Winkler's Garden Valley Zodiacs in 2006.
"It's tough to put into words to be honest with you," remarked SRSS head coach John Laninga. "When I went to the AAAA volleyball championship and the Sabres took that, we went to practice the next day and I said, 'boys that could be a reality for us.' The league playoffs didn't quite go the way we wanted them to, and boy was it tough to get back to the practice ice and work hard but that's been our MO all year. We've got good leadership on this team. We've got guys that just push the pace at practice and that's where it's got to start. This group of guys committed themselves to greatness and I think that's what we saw today."