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Hastings senior goalie Lenny Weiss played the hero in the Raiders' wins last week, saving 39 of Cretin-Derham Hall's 42 shots on goal and stopping 30 of East Ridge's 31 shots. (Submitted photo by Steve Rooker)

Raiders make run to Section 3AA finals

sports Hastings,Minnesota 55033
Hastings Star Gazette
Raiders make run to Section 3AA finals
Hastings Minnesota 745 Spiral Boulevard 55033

It'll be a true "David and Goliath" affair.

The Hastings boys hockey team is just hoping it works out the same way.

Hastings, the sixth seed in the nine-team Section 3AA tournament, earned a trip to the section finals with wins over Cretin-Derham Hall and East Ridge last week. The victories bought the Raiders a date with top-seed and No. 3-ranked Eagan, the defending section champions. Eagan (22-3-1) won its first two playoff games of the tournament a combined 19-1. It's the first section final for Hastings (14-11-2) in more than 10 years.

The Raiders will play for a third trip to state on Thursday, March 1, at 7 p.m. at the State Fair Coliseum.

Hastings earned a section final appearance with a 2-1 win over seventh-seeded East Ridge, which upset second-seed Apple Valley in the section quarterfinals, on Saturday, Feb. 25, at the Coliseum.

In the win over the Raptors (8-17-2), Hastings struck first as senior Tyler Mellick scored his first-ever varsity goal, giving Hastings a 1-0 first-period lead. East Ridge's Joey Schutz tied the game 1-1 on a goal 39 seconds into the second period with an assist going to Matthew LaForte. Hastings took a 2-1 lead, however, as Nate Flynn netted the go-ahead goal 4:21 into the third period and the Raiders held on for the win.

East Ridge, which outshot Hastings 31-20 in the game, finished the year 8-17-2 overall.

It was the third time the Raiders beat East Ridge, the seventh seed in the section, this year.

Before beating East Ridge, Hastings upset third-seed Cretin-Derham Hall 4-3 in the quarterfinals, on Tuesday, Feb. 21, at St. Paul's Highland Arena to earn a semifinal appearance.

Hastings senior goalie Lenny Weiss played the hero in the win, saving 39 of Cretin-Derham Hall's 42 shots on goal. Hastings had 16 shots on net, scoring on four of them.

Hastings' Mark Huneke scored what would turn out to be the game-winning goal, on assists by Flynn and Brandon Boogren, giving Hastings a 4-2 lead with 1:24 remaining in the second period. Huneke's tally capped a three-goal period for the Raiders, breaking a 1-1 first-period tie. Cretin-Derham Hall (11-12-3) scored 6:37 into the third period, cutting the Hastings' lead to 4-3, but the Raiders were able to hang on for the upset win.

In addition to Huneke, Andrew Bussey had a three-point game with two goals and an assist and Colin Shoen had one goal.