Breck players celebrated a goal in last week’s 5-2 victory over Blake in the Class 1A, Section 5 title game.
Teams are given a standard 3-minute break between regulation play and sudden-death overtime in the girls' hockey playoffs. In the Class 2A, Section 6 championship game last Friday night at Parade Ice Garden, Minnetonka spent a good 10 seconds of that brief period in loud laughter.
"The girls had probably heard me talk enough in the last 48 hours," coach Eric Johnson said. "By that time, there wasn't a whole lot to say. They have a high degree of confidence in themselves.
"I asked them, 'A month ago, if I had told you we'd be in this situation, would you have taken it?' And they all were like, 'Well, yeah. Take it. This is good.'"
Things only got better.
Two minutes after the puck dropped in overtime, sophomore winger Diana Draayer sent the defending Class 2A state champs back to the tournament when her goal broke a 1-1 deadlock with Benilde-St. Margaret's.
The Skippers (22-5-1) drew the No. 1 seed in the tournament. They play Eagan (22-3-3) in the opening round at 6 p.m. on Thursday at Xcel Energy Center.
Minnetonka lost two Star Tribune all-metro first team players -- Rachel Ramsey on defense and Julie Friend in goal -- to graduation after last season. But that hasn't changed the Skippers' defense-minded mentality.
Sydney Rossman and Hannah Ehresmann combined to post a 1.30 goals-against average during the regular season, notching eight shutouts. Rossman allowed only two goals during the three-game section tournament, playing all 155 minutes in net.
Minnetonka has allowed more than two goals just once since a 5-3 victory over Class 1A, No. 2 seed Warroad on Dec. 31.
"It's not just us or the defenders, it's the way the whole team plays in the D-zone," Rossman said. "We know anything can happen in games. We're more prepared for state now."
Last year's Class 2A runner-up is also back for more. And wouldn't you know it, Edina is on the opposite side of the bracket after drawing the No. 3 seed.
The Lake Conference teams battled to a 2-2 tie until the Skippers' Amy Petersen scored with 37.1 seconds remaining in last year's championship game. Edina got back to state with a convincing 4-0 victory over Chaska/Chanhassen in the Section 2 final last week. The Hornets (18-4-6) take on Mounds View (21-6-1) at 1 p.m. Thursday in the opening round.
Breck not satisfied yet
You'll have to forgive girls' hockey players at Breck if their section championship celebration was a bit subdued last week.
"A little anticlimactic," coach Chris Peterson said later. "They were so focused on getting back to the [state] tournament and making a run at [a championship], so when it was all over and done with, there was this sense of, 'Hey, we're not done yet.'"
The Mustangs (24-2-1), the top seed in Class 1A, are making their fifth state tournament appearance in six years. The best they have come up with, however, is a pair of silver medals in 2008 and 2010.
As the No. 2 seed last February, Breck fell to No. 3 seed South St. Paul in the semifinals.
"We're feeling good about heading back to St. Paul and want to bring home some big hardware," Johnson said. "The kids haven't accomplished what they want to accomplish yet. They're more relieved than anything that they didn't put their hands around their own throat and cough up the chance. They'll be ready to go."
Breck plays Chisago Lakes (20-7-1) at 6 p.m. Wednesday in the opening round. Star Tribune all-metro first-team defenseman Milica McMillen leads the Mustangs with 49 points.