Sure, winning the Cook Inlet Conference regular-season championship was mildly fulfilling -- and going 14-0-0 in league added to the modest hockey happiness -- but the Dimond boys seek the greater glory that has eluded them.
The Lynx know that running the table in the CIC, which they did with Thursday night's 8-4 demolition of runner-up Service at Ben Boeke Arena, is not what matters most. Only a state championship will satisfy.
That's because they rolled undefeated through the CIC regular season and postseason tournament last year, but fell to Service in the state semifinals, all of which left them feeling empty after a 26-1-0 season.
"Guys were bitter,'' recalled Dimond coach Dennis Sorenson.
In each of the two seasons before that, Dimond lost in the state title game.
"We haven't won it yet, so we're really trying to focus and take it this year,'' said Dimond senior Aaron Dunlap. "We really want this one. I feel like we really deserve it.''
And that's why Tuesday's 4-3 overtime win against South may prove a turning point in Dimond's season. The Lynx finally faced adversity. South raced to a 2-0 lead before Dunlap scored in the last minute of regulation to force overtime and Shilo Vega delivered the game winner in overtime.
"We can't take anything for granted,'' Dunlap said. "We know we have to work for everything.''
Sorenson said trailing South by two goals seemed to awaken his sleepy team.
"My guys said, 'This isn't right,' '' Sorenson said. "Guys started to hold each other accountable.''
Thursday, the Lynx carried the momentum they generated Tuesday into their regular-season finale. Dunlap and Tyler Thompson each scored twice, and Daniel Roberts, Mason Anderson, Dawson Glover and Tyler Andrews each scored once.
Thompson scored less than three minutes into the game and Dunlap added a power-play goal less than four minutes later to generate a 2-0 lead.
Service defenseman Braden Mitchell cut the deficit to 2-1 with a power-play goal later in the period, but that's as close as the Cougars got.
Thompson and Dunlap blew the game open when they scored goals 35 seconds apart early in the second period as the teams skated 4 on 4. Thompson deflected an Anderson shot past Service goaltender Angus Klancher and Ben Heafer's centering pass left Dunlap with a tap-in at the left post.
Dimond on Monday opens the CIC tournament against last-place Bartlett in what sets up as a light skate -- the Lynx have beaten Bartlett twice, 14-0 and 12-0 -- and a win will deliver a spot in the state tournament.
The four semifinalists in the CIC tournament earn state-tournament berths. The results of the semifinals, final and consolation game determine the conference's seeding in the state tournament.
"The goal is getting back to state and getting to the state final,'' Sorenson said.
Service 1 1 2 -- 4
Dimond 2 3 3 -- 8
First Period -- 1, Dimond, Thompson (Bauer), 2:29; 2, Dimond, Dunlap (Dr. Glover, Da. Glover), 6:20 (pp); 3, Service, Mitchell (Giorgione, Brown), 12:47 (pp). Penalties -- Service 1 for 2 minutes, Dimond 1 for 2.
Second Period -- 4, Dimond, Thompson (Anderson), 5:05; 5, Dimond, Dunlap (Heafer), 5:40; 6, Service, Graff (Brown), 8:09; 7, Dimond, Roberts, 9:32. Penalties -- Service 3 for 6, Dimond 3 for 6.
Third Period -- 8, Dimond, Anderson, :21 (sh); 9, Dimond, Da. Glover (Mabry), 1:27; 10, Service, Meszaros (Mitchell), 6:09; 11, Service, Burbage (McInnis, Cutshall), 12:17 (pp); 12, Dimond, Andrews (Dunlap), 13:54 (en). Penalties -- Service 2 for 4, Dimond 2 for 4.
Goalies -- Service, Klancher 4-12-4--20. Dimond, Sleater 4-2-6--12.
Eagle River 7, Bartlett 5
Brett Wood's hat trick and three assists Thursday night spearheaded Eagle River to a 7-5 victory over Bartlett in a Cook Inlet Conference boys hockey game at the McDonald Center in Eagle River.
Carter Jesiel added two goals and an assist for the Wolves, who blew open the game with a four-goal second period. Quinn Hulse chipped in one goal and one helper.
Bartlett's Zack Perry racked a hat trick and two assists, and Joel Johnson furnished the Golden Bears a goal and two assists.