Raiders play section tourney game on home ice
For the first time that Hastings boys hockey coach Russ Welch can remember, the Hastings boys hockey team is playing host to a section tournament game.
For years, the section tournament was held at neutral sites throughout the Twin Cities. But, as the number of classes have grown, those rinks have grown especially busy, meaning first-round games are played at the higher seed.
So, come 7:15 p.m. Thursday night (Feb. 24), section tournament hockey is coming to Hastings.
The fourth-seeded Raiders will play host to the fifth-seeded Woodbury Royals in the quarterfinals.
Hastings has a 12-12-1 record.
Nine of those losses have come by one goal.
The section's No. 1 seed is Eagan.
Apple Valley is No. 2 and Cretin-Derham Hall is No. 3.
East Ridge, Eastview, Park, Rosemount and Henry Sibley round out the field.
A fraction of a second made a big difference in the Suburban East Conference standings this year.
Hastings lost to Stillwater this week, 2-1, when the Ponies scored with .9 seconds remaining. Had the Raiders won, they would have tied for third. Instead, the Raiders settled or a fourth-place tie in the SEC.
"It was a tough pill to swallow," Hastings coach Russ Welch said.
White Bear Lake won the Suburban East Conference with 32 points. They had a 15-1-2 record.
Stillwater finished second with 30 points. They had a 14-2-2 record.
Cretin-Derham Hall was third with 21 points and a 9-6-3 mark.
Hastings tied with Roseville for fourth place with 20 points. Hastings had a 10-8 mark in league play.
For Hastings, finishing fourth was a big step forward. The strong showing against one of the top teams in the SEC was a good sign for the Raiders, too, especially coming off a trip to Duluth Tuesday where the Raiders lost 12-2.
"This team is pretty resilient," Welch said. "We came back from Duluth and played very well against Stillwater."
The Hastings goal was scored by Tate Sykes in the third period.
He was assisted by Drew Bauer and Austin Nelson. His goal came at 9:17 of the third, which tied the game 1-1. It came on the power play.
Vs Duluth East
Hastings lost to Duluth East on Feb. 15, 12-2.
Hastings actually held a 1-0 lead in the first period and almost scored again. Late in the first period, though, with just 39 seconds to play, Duluth East scored to tie the game.
In the second period, the wheels fell off for the Raiders. The Greyhounds scored eight goals. The troubling part for Welch was that the problem wasn't goaltending. Piotrowski played especially well, Welch said.
"P.J. was the best player on the ice," Welch said. "He made some great stops. The ones they got, he had no chance whatsoever to save. On eight of their nine goals against him, he had no chance at all. He stopped another five or six that. Goaltending wasn't our problem.
"It was a total team collapse."
Duluth East is a perennial power, and this year is no different. They are among the state's top 10 teams.
"I don't know what happened in the second period," Welch said. "Everything fell apart. It was just one of those games. They're very, very good. We just couldn't do anything."
Hastings got its goals from Sykes and Andrew Lindberg. Recording assists were Sykes, Jake Canneff, Drew Bauer and Adam Fox.
Piotrowski played in goal for the first two periods. He allowed nine of the goals and made 19 saves on 28 shots.
Lenny Weiss played in goal for the third period. He allowed three of the goals. Weiss made nine saves.