The Hastings Raiders boys' hockey team knows that the next few weeks to wrap up the regular season will be huge in regards to their section fortunes. Hastings moves to section 1AA this year, joining schools like Farmington and the three Rochester schools. Winners of two of the last four, a turnaround at this time is important for the Raiders to gain momentum and avoid a bottom seed come section playoffs. Currently, Hastings is 4-14-1 and 3-8-0 in the Metro East Conference.
Two weeks ago, Hastings won two MEC matchups at home against Hill-Murray (3-2) and on the road at Henry Sibley (5-1). Word is that it is Hastings first-ever win over Hill-Murray, who they only started playing in official contests a few years ago, though that has not yet been verified.
Head coach Adam Welch said that while, if true, the first-ever win over the Pioneers is fun, it was not something that immediately came to mind with how few times the two teams have met. Hastings continued their momentum against the Warriors, but were unable to roll it over last week as they fell to North and South St. Paul.
With just six games left (four on the road), the Raiders need to go on a run. Welch said the games against Farmington and Rochester Mayo are huge as they are in Hastings' section, and so is the one against East Ridge who is a common opponent with several section teams as well.
Looking ahead, Welch said the Raiders will rely upon their depth, which has been a surprise. He said that this is the most players Hastings has dressed for varsity since he has been with the program and they have had several underclassmen step up and contribute.
One of those is sophomore Leo Otto, who leads the team in points, followed by freshman Jonathan Peine and junior Logan Boogren. Welch also singled out sophomore Alex Foster, who he said has been the team's most consistent defenseman on the season, and junior Isaac Flynn, who has worked his way up from junior varsity to be in the varsity rotation.
The key over the rest of the season, Welch said, is to not get ahead of themselves and not always try to make the difficult play over the simple one.
Hastings hosted Rochester Mayo on Tuesday, Jan. 30, and then travels to Simley on Thursday, Feb. 1.