The Hastings girls' hockey team started conference play last week and they immediately put their early season woes behind them. The Raiders pitched two shutouts and beat North/Tartan and Mahtomedi 1-0 each. Hastings has won their first three conference games, two of which were over Mahtomedi. They are 3-0 in conference and 3-7 overall.
The Raiders traveled to North St. Paul to play the combined team of North and Tartan on Tuesday, Dec. 6, and they brought their defense with them. Hastings only gave up 13 shots, outshooting North/Tartan 28-13. The Raiders' defense, combined with goalie Alayna Kunshier, was solid enough that they only needed the one goal. Kunshier returned the previous game against Farmington after time off due to injury. After knocking the rust off, she showed just how good she can be by stopping North/Tartan for her first varsity shutout. Hastings scored one goal in the second period, courtesy of Rachel Klimek and assisted by Alexa Harrington and Josephine Kummer.
Head coach Josh Colvin said that his team's improved physicality has paid dividends on defense.
"Our forecheck is really starting to come along and allows us to sustain pressure," Colvin said.
Despite the win, Colvin also said that they still need to improve offensively.
"The main area of concern is scoring, which in hockey can be at a premium," Colvin said. "We're generating shots, but right now we're struggling to find the rebound areas of the ice and converting on them."
Hastings hosted the Zephyrs Friday, Dec. 9, for the second of their two games this season in what Colvin said is quickly developing into a rivalry.
"We knew Mahtomedi was a better team than the scoreboard showed in our first matchup, and they tightened down their defense on us," Colvin explained. "It was great to get our first win at home for the year, especially against what is developing into a good rivalry. Every game seems to be a tough battle but the work the girls have put in at practice is really starting to show."
The Raiders once again shut out their opponents and needed only one goal for the victory, this time from Layna Connell, assisted by Lauren Tix. Kunshier and the Raiders' defense recorded their second shutout in a row and second this season for the season sweep of Mahtomedi.
Once again Colvin emphasized a need to be more aggressive offensively.
"The next step is taking the shots when we have the chance," Colvin stated. "We're passing up too many B+ chances hoping for an A+ and instead end up with no shot. You can see it in the shots on goal. We had a good advantage in zone time but trailed in shots the whole game."
Mahtomedi outshot the Raiders 25-17 and held the shot advantage in all three periods.
Hastings traveled to South St. Paul, Tuesday, Dec. 13 and then host Hill-Murray at Hastings Civic Arena, Friday, Dec. 16.