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They were 31-3 in the regular season and that earned them the top-seed heading into the American Collegiate Hockey Conference's (ACHA) Division 1 National Championships.

When you take a deep dive at the 2022-2023 Minot State Beavers men's hockey team, you will see plenty of talent that used to play in the Manitoba Junior Hockey League and those players made a seamless jump up to the college ranks. The team scored 187 times and they only gave up 62 goals. Last year's team was equally as strong, but they fell short at the nationals.

This year, the team was on a mission, and the only way that mission would be complete is if they won a national title. The journey began last Friday in Boston for the team and it resulted in an 8-0 win against the University of Michigan-Dearborn. For Brayden Pawluk -- former Dauphin King -- that win meant, he was one step closer to achieving a lifelong dream and it took another step forward with a 4-3 win against Indiana Tech two days later. Then the next day, Pawluk and the Beavers survived a scare.

Trailing 2-0 heading into the third period, the Beavers mounted a comeback that eventually led to a Joey Moffat goal in overtime as the Beavers had booked their berth in the national final against Adrian College.

"There was a lot of excitement for that final game and you could just feel it in the dressing room," said Pawluk. "We had a good mixture of guys that had never won a national championship and we had some guys that had in the past, so it just seemed like all the right pieces to the puzzle were coming together."

Only one goal was scored in that final, Josh Pederson's second of the tournament for the Beavers and after they locked down things defensively the rest of the way, Minot State became national champions. Wayde Johannesson -- another former King -- had one of the assists on the game-winning goal. The team finished their incredible run to a title with 37 wins in their 40 games and for Pawluk, raising the championship trophy was a moment that he will never forget.

"We just knew that they weren't going to score," said Pawluk. "We had so much belief in each other and we just kept playing. It was such an incredible feeling to win it with this amazing group."

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Shortly after the game wrapped up, Brayden looked at his phone and saw dozens of messages congratulating him, but one of the most important ones was from his parents. So he called them on FaceTime to share the moment. Brayden's parents have been his biggest supporters and they have travelled thousands and thousands of kilometres to watch him play in person over the years. 

"It was emotional, I am so thankful for all that they have done for me," said Pawluk. "To get the chance to thank them for everything they have done for me was really important."

The team would then board a plane for their flight back home the next day and when they arrived at their home airport, they were hundreds of Beaver supporters and media waiting to celebrate and interview members of the team.

"It was an awesome experience to walk down the escalator and see all of the people in the community that live and breathe Beaver hockey, it was amazing to share that moment with them," offered Pawluk. "There were also a few past champions that are still in the community and they came out, so that was great to see as well."

Pawluk's next journey will see him head to Cârța, Romania, from April 14-19, for the World Cup of University Hockey as he will play on ACHA Team Canada. 

The event will be Brayden's first wearing the Canadian crest on a team that includes plenty of firepower. Pawluk will be joined by four of his teammates at Minot State. ACHA Team Canada will be in Group B alongside the host nation, Poland, and the Czech Republic. 

"It's a great opportunity, I have never represented Team Canada, so I'm honoured to have been given the chance," ended Pawluk. "To get the chance to represent the country and see some of the world, it's really exciting. I'm looking forward to it and the end goal is winning that gold medal for Canada."