Raider boys' hockey challenged to elevate play
The Hastings Raiders boys' hockey team was shut out in two games last week against Eagan and Eastview. The Raiders fell at Eagan 5-0 on Jan. 4, and then lost at home Saturday, Jan. 6, to Eastview 3-0. With the losses, Hastings is now 2-10-1 overall, 1-4 in the Metro East Conference and are in the midst of a losing streak dating back to early December.
Head coach Adam Welch said that with such a young team (in terms of experience), they are working hard every day to put it together and at moments have shown what they are capable of.
An example of this is the start of the game against Eastview. Despite being significantly outshot by the Lightning, the Raiders competed with and played them to a standstill the entire first period and the start of the second. However, they were unable to muster the offense to take the pressure off of their goalie and defense and the dam broke with two Eastview goals in the second period.
Despite the flashes, Welch said that his team needs to take that next step in order to turn things around in the second half of the season.
"There's another level that we have to get to," he explained. "We just haven't realized what that level is yet. We need to have some of our younger guys push it a little bit here, push it to another level. We have nine seniors, so it's not like we're young in age, it's just a matter of that the guys who are playing a lot of minutes are some younger guys and we need them to elevate."
Welch went on to say that the only way to remedy that is to keep playing and giving those younger players experience.
"I think it's just a youth thing," he said. "We have some young guys who just don't realize how hard you have to play on a shift-by-shift basis. We've used a couple guys as examples, both John and Joe Neuman, the brothers, are seniors and if you watch them, they play as hard as they possibly can. We keep pointing those guys out, they're getting more and more ice time and they're getting in the lineup because of how hard they work on a nightly basis."
Despite the struggle with wins and losses, there have been positives this season as well.
"Last game against Eastview, we got outshot but Scotty Tuin, our goalie, played unbelievable, it was the best game I've seen him play in his career," Welch said. "That's obviously a highlight for us, to have a goalie play to that level and we're going to need that."
Tuin, a senior saved 51-of-54 shots on goal, a 94 percent save rate.
He also said that the team's young guys have taken up the roles the team needs them to and the locker room has really come together as a team.
With the second half of the season ahead of them, Welch said the team's goal now is to turn things around and make a run at as high a seed as possible in their new section, section 1AA.
The Raiders travel to St. Thomas Academy on Thursday, Jan. 11, and then host Tartan on Saturday, Jan. 13.