Coaches left the locker room and a Hill-Murray team meeting took place after the first period of Saturday night's Class 2A girls' hockey state championship game.
The format mirrored the Pioneers' effective playing style. Players shared ideas for how to improve, contributions were made by all and supreme effort was the lone requirement.
Though trailing by a goal at the time, the Pioneers displayed a defending champion's moxie and won 2-1 at Xcel Energy Center. Their second consecutive title also marked Minnetonka's first state tournament loss ever.
Senior Jess Bonfe gave No. 2 seed Hill-Murray (25-5) its first lead 2 minutes, 3 seconds into the third period. Her goal held up as the winner, despite the Skippers' best efforts with an extra attacker for the game's final 1:40.
"We're pretty happy right now," Pioneers coach Bill Schafhauser said.
Relief was in contrast to how the Pioneers felt early.
Top seed Minnetonka (23-7) started fast as Emma Bigham scored the game's first goal only 21 seconds in. Schafhauser called the goal "a stunner" and admitted his team needed time to recover.
"We were surprised; it was unexpected," Bonfe said. "But we took it as energy to get back out there."
The 1-0 lead stood through the players' meeting at intermission and into the second. Dismantling a Minnetonka rush, the Pioneers transitioned fast to spring junior Laura Anderson. She tied the score with a blast over Tatyana Delaittre's blocker. Anderson led Hill-Murray with four tournament goals, including the winner in the semifinals.
Both rosters brimmed with experience. Hill-Murray brought back 11 players who saw action in last year's championship game, including Anderson, Bonfe and goalie Leah Patrick.
Minnetonka countered with Kelsey Crow, a key factor in the Skippers' two most recent title games, plus 2013 championship veterans Katie McMillan, Rylie McDonell and Presley Norby.
Crow was gracious in defeat, crediting Hill-Murray for answering in the second period and "doing the small things better than us."
Crow said her teammates made goals before the season, with the ultimate hockey-related pursuit being a section championship.
"Getting to state is just icing," Crow said. "It's tough to be the one team out of, what, 64 teams, to win."
Nevertheless, Crow believed Minnetonka would find a way to tie the game late. "You've got to believe, right?" she said. "One of our four mantras is, 'It's possible.' "
For good reason. Before Saturday, Minnetonka had never lost a state tournament game. The Skippers went 9-0 winning three consecutive state titles, including a 2013 championship game victory over Hill-Murray.
Saturday ended in a different way. Hill-Murray did most everything right, outshooting Minnetonka 22-17 and taking zero penalties.
"We're known to compete hard and we had to keep stressing that," Schafhauser said.
"They were deep and fast," Skippers coach Eric Johnson said. "Our kids competed hard, too. We knew it would be a tight, one-goal game."