Boys hockey: Raiders take 3rd at SSP tourney
All things considered, it has been one amazing start for the Hastings boys hockey team.
The team's record isn't necessarily all that amazing at 5-6, but there are a couple factors to consider when looking at that record.
First, Hastings has played just two home games all season.
Second, the team just concluded a stretch during which they played nine games in 20 nights. The rest of the season the Raiders will play just 14 games in 49 nights.
Third, Hastings has been without four of its top 14 players for three weeks because of injuries.
"We're very proud of the kids right now," coach Russ Welch said. "They stuck through a lot of adversity with all the injuries, and all those games in a short amount of time. We're pretty happy with where we are right now as a team. We think we could have won a couple of those games and could have been 7-4. Under the circumstances, we're pretty happy with where we are. We're feeling pretty good at this point."
Hastings plays at Cretin-Derham Hall and Park this week before coming home for 10 of their final 12 games, including nine straight at home.
Hastings beat Anoka in the first round of a tournament in South St. Paul Saturday, Dec. 26, 4-1.
It was the first start of the season and the first varsity win for senior goalie Mike Porrez. He made 22 saves to get the win. Porrez had missed the first month of the season with an ankle injury.
Hastings scored a single goal in each of the first two periods. The first-period goal was scored by Tom Kuhn and the second-period goal was scored by Cole Claussen.
In the third period, John Klein scored his first varsity goal on the power play. The fourth and final goal was scored by Austin Nelson.
Assists were made by Andrew Lindberg, Ryan Bussey, Nelson (2), Tate Sykes and Claussen.
Hastings lost in the second round to Hopkins, 7-2.
The game was 1-1 until there was just one second to play in the first period. The Royals scored with just one second remaining in the period to take a 2-1 lead into the first intermission.
"I thought we outplayed them in the first period, and I thought we should have been up 2-1 or 3-1," Welch said. "Instead, they came out of it up 2-1 and we didn't recuperate. In the second period, they outscored us 3-0, and that was the game."
Hastings goals were scored by Andrew Lindberg and Klein. Assists were made by Max Fox, Alex Wagner and Claussen.
Porrez made 34 saves.
Hastings faced South St. Paul in the third-place game. The Packers entered the game as the No. 14-ranked team in Class 1A. Hastings won, 5-3.
The Raiders jumped out to a 3-0 lead after two first-period goals by Nate Flynn and a goal early in the second period by Bussey. South St. Paul, though, scored three goals in five minutes to tie the game 3-3.
Just more than a minute later, though, Hastings countered with a power-play goal by Lindberg to take a 4-3 lead. Wagner added an empty-netter late, and the Raiders went on to win by two goals.
Welch said the goal by Lindberg that gave Hastings the 4-3 lead was an incredibly important goal for the Raiders.
"That was a big goal," Welch said. "Not even two minutes after they came back to tie it, we were back on top. That was the turning point of the game."
Getting five goals on the Packers' goalie, Luke Palmquist, was no east feat. He has already committed to play collegiately at the University of Minnesota.
Flynn's first goal got by Palmquist in the upper corner.
"That was just a great shot," Welch said. "I didn't think the puck could fit in that corner. The other goals were rebounds and deflections in front that (Palmquist) didn't have a chance on. We got people to the net, and we banged a couple in."
Assists were made by Nelson (3), Flynn, Fox and Claussen (2).
Tom Sieh made 25 saves to earn the win in goal.