The Hastings girls' hockey team dropped two conference games last week after starting 4-2 in the Metro East. The Raiders lost at home Tuesday, Jan. 10, to Simley, 3-1, and then traveled to conference leader Hill-Murray where they struggled and lost 9-1. Hastings is now 5-15-1 on the season and 4-4 in conference.
Head coach Josh Colvin said the team knew it would be a tough matchup with Simley going into the game.
"Simley has been on a great hot streak, knocking off perennial powerhouse South St. Paul prior to facing us," Colvin said.
Simley scored the first two goals, one in the first period and one in the second, before the Raiders responded in the third with a goal by Josephine Kummer, assisted by Rachel Klimek and Alexa Harrington. Down 2-1, Hastings was not able to close the gap and Simley was able to score one more goal to win 3-1. Despite being down 2-0 after the first two periods, Colvin said his team played with the Spartans for most of the game.
"We played them very competitively for two periods, but our power play continues to let us down," Colvin explained. "With a five-on-three opportunity we failed to score, and then in the third period, down by a goal, Simley took a five-minute major penalty. Instead of tying the game up, we gave up a shorthanded goal to give Simley a 3-1 win."
Simley outshot Hastings by a narrow margin, 22-19, but had almost double the penalty minutes Hastings did, which the Raiders were unable to take advantage of.
The Raiders went to Hill-Murray already at a disadvantage due to being under-strength. Colvin said they were missing Nicole Neuman, and Alexa Harrington and Erika McDonald were limited, all due to injury/illness. Then Hill-Murray's speed and skill made trouble for the Raiders in all facets of the game.
"Hill-Murray's speed and passing hurt us in all three zones, but especially in transition in the neutral zone," Colvin said. "If we give a team with that kind of skill that much space, it isn't going to end well. Alayna Kunshier (goalie) played well in the loss despite the scoreboard, but we just put her in too many tough positions to be successful."
The Pioneers scored four-straight goals in the first period before Hastings was able to get on the board with a goal from Klimek, assisted by Madelyn Junker. Down 4-1 at the end of the first period, things only snowballed from there. Hill-Murray added another four goals in the second period and one more in the third for nine goals total on the night off of 35 shots to Hastings eight.
With only a few weeks left before the section playoffs, Colvin said his team can still make a push to gain momentum.
"With four games left (three in the conference), second place in the Metro East Conference is still within our grasp," Colvin said. "Finding a way to generate more offensive chances and cleaning up our power play are priority number one. The biggest change we need to make is becoming a team that is hard to play against. We need to be more physical and take the play to their net. We are still too soft in both our gaps and in the blue paint."
Hastings plays Friday, Jan. 20, at home against North St. Paul/Tartan.