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Raiders make run to Section 3AA finals

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)

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.