Wildcats end Raiders' season, 4-3
For much of the third period of Saturday's hockey game between Hastings and Eagan, it looked like the Raiders were going to pull off a major upset. In the end, though, Eagan added two late goals and won, 4-3.
The loss ended the season for the Raiders.
Hastings held a 3-2 lead with about four minutes left to play in the game, but Eagan scored the game-tying goal at 12:44 of the third period, then the game-winner at 14:24.
"(It was a) tough pill to swallow, but in the end we were very proud of how much this team improved over the season," coach Jeff Corkish said. "We started by losing our senior goalie for the season in early November, as well as having one of the youngest and most inexperienced defenses in the conference and section. Our scoring came largely from our 10th grade class, so when you look at the future we feel that it is pretty bright.
"We will greatly miss our seniors who have been a huge part of the success this team has had the last few years. Their spots, although there are only four, will be tough to fill. They all played a lot of minutes in each game and quite honestly carried our team at the end of this season, stepping up when it mattered the most."
Eagan was the section tournament's No. 1 seeded team. Hastings was seeded fourth.
The Wildcats took a 2-0 lead in the first period with goals at 11:54 and 16:34.
"The first period saw us squeezing our sticks a little tight, causing us to do a lot of watching instead of putting pressure on Eagan," Corkish said. "They ended up with a lot of time and space in our defensive zone and in the end took a 2-0 lead."
The second period was a much different story. Hastings got a goal at 9:55 by Kiki Radke, assisted by Natalie Simons, to pull within one. At 14:45, Josie Stepan scored on the power play, assisted by Sami Claussen, to tie the score.
"After a little chat in the dressing room the girls got back on their feet and really brought it the rest of the game," Corkish said. "We outshot them in the second, 13-4, and tied the game back up. The locker room was very positive after the second and all the girls truly believed we were going to win the game."
In the third period, Hastings took the lead at the 1:45 mark. Kaitlin Stark scored the goal, assisted by Torri Holm.
Eagan, though, added the two goals late and won.
"We ended up getting beat up the ice by one of their defense, who got a shot on net which got by our goalie to tie it up at 3-3," Corkish said. "With two minutes left they got a shot on goal that ended up getting knocked into the net with a scrambling type of play. It was an unfortunate way to see them take the lead and we ultimately could not fight back to tie the score. We worked hard all the way to the end and our kids never gave up but we just could not get the break to score the fourth goal."
Hastings finishes the season with an 11-13 overall record.
"We are really proud of how well the girls played all season and how well they did in the section playoffs," Corkish said.
Brooke Weber played in goal for Hastings. She made 22 saves on 26 shots.
Hastings advanced in the section tournament Wednesday, Feb. 8, by beating Eastview, 3-2. The Lightning was the fifth seed.
"We played really well in that game, but could not seem to sink the puck that would put the game out of reach," Corkish said. "It was a good test for us to see if we could stay focused and not lose the edge that it takes to protect the lead. Our fans were rewarded with a good game for the last one at home for this season."