The Richmond Generals started the scoring, then found themselves tied at one point, before pulling away for a 5-2 win in the 2018-19 USPHL Elite Championship game.
The Generals came to the championship after two ties and a win just barely got them into the semifinals. However, once there, they kept going one goal better than the Hampton Roads Whalers for a 3-2 semifinal win.
That all led to Monday at the Essex Sports Center in Middleton, Mass., where once again, the Richmond found themselves in a tie deep in the title game against Tampa Bay.
At the 13:09 mark of the second period, Richmond's Zachary Boulet sent the game-winning goal home, though at the time it was still a nip-and-tuck affair. He came in 1-on-2, squeezed through the defense and sent it behind Tampa's Shaun Hatton for his second of the game.
"It's an amazing feeling. Since Day 1, we wanted that title," said Boulet. "We worked the entire year for that, and made all the sacrifice possible to see that success."
Richmond started the scoring at 6:13 of the first period when Brendan Meyer and Benjamin Carlson executed a nifty give-and-go swoop-around-the-zone play for the 1-0 lead.
"It was unreal, I didn't think that would ever happen," said Meyer, about his goal. "Boyle was coming in on the forecheck real hard, Carlson had a great pass to me, and the rest is history after that."
The Generals went to the locker room after 20 minutes tied 1-1. Brendan Stoufer sent a long shot in from the point at the 8:28 mark to tie it for Tampa Bay.
In the second, Brendan Keaton fed a pass to Boulet down low. Boulet made a couple moves, then sank the shot for the 2-1 lead just 2:03 into the second.
Then, just as the Cyclones did in the Generals' first round robin game goal after goal, the Juniors answered.
Brody Horoshak scored on the rebound at the 9:05 mark. That, however, was the last Tampa Bay would see for their offense going on the scoresheet.
After Boulet's aforementioned game-winning goal, the Generals added two more in the third period, both by Jacob Burke. His second was an empty-netter to seal the deal for the Generals.
Their road to the finals was never really easy, and Richmond only had two points coming out of Saturday. A big 4-0 win over the New Jersey Hitmen saved them, and gave them the second seed for the crossover semifinals.
"We were back and forth, back and forth. We have so much depth, I didn't think anyone could stop us, we were just unreal," said Meyer. "We played Gens' hockey. I'm so glad to be part of this family right now."
"The whole weekend, if you look at the scores, it's playoffs, you cannot tell. The [regular] season doesn't matter anymore," added Boulet. "Every team is special. We got two ties, the Cyclones got another tie. It's totally a different world."