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Raiders look to continue strong MEC play, improve against section opponents next year

The Hastings girls' hockey team finished their season after a section playoff loss to Eagan, but once again proved they were one of the best teams in the Metro East Conference (MEC) with a 7-4-0 record in conference (8-17-1 overall).

"We had the second-best record behind only Hill-Murray, which was our goal going into the season," head coach Josh Colvin said. "Our goal was to be competitive in every game, but in section play we struggled to keep up with some of the teams, so we will need to improve that for next year."

The Raiders battled adversity in the form of injuries and a lack of depth at certain key positions all season, but Colvin said his team handled it well.

"With limited numbers at our junior varsity level, it was amazing how we stuck together as a group and kept everything positive," Colvin explained. "We had five girls step up and play goalie who had never done so before, which was remarkable. At no point in the season did we have girls stop working or quit on the team despite a few rough patches."

Heading into next season, Hastings is graduating a large chunk of their scorers from this past season, where they struggled to score at times.

"Goal scoring will be at a premium next year," Colvin said. "We need all of our defensmen and our goalies to step up and improve over the offseason. If we are going to have success in the section we need to keep the games 2-1, 3-2. On the offensive side we graduate 29 of our 52 goals, so someone is going to have to step up and fill that role. We have a deep group of current sophomores, but they're going to have to work hard to take over the leadership on the ice."

Colvin said that one of the team's weaknesses this past year which needs to be improved was executing on the power play when they have the advantage and defending when short handed, as they gave up way too many short-handed goals.

He also said that both he and the team will need to adjust and improve over the offseason.

"We're always looking to get better at what we do," Colvin said. "Individually I have a few clinics with college coaches in similar situations who've had success. We start our shooting and stickhandling, off-ice training March 1. The biggest thing we need to do is get back to being one of the benchmark groups in Hastings for what consistent hard work and dedication is."

Five Raiders graduate this year: Rachel Klimek, Alexa Harrington, Nicole Neuman, Erika McDonald and Lauren Tix.

"They're a great group of girls," Colvin said. "The hardest part about this job is spending four or five years with these girls and then having to say goodbye. We had a lot of obstacles during the season and I'm proud of the people they are and how they handled things. They will definitely be missed and they better show up for the alumni game!"

Alec Hamilton

Alec Hamilton is a sports reporter and general assignment reporter at the Hastings Star Gazette. He is a journalism graduate of Drake University.

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