The Hastings Raiders girls' hockey team traveled to Eagan Civic Arena in between snow storm Wednesday night to take on the Eagan Wildcats in the first round of the Section 3AA playoffs. The Raiders entered the night as the No. 8 seed while the Wildcats were the No. 1 seed in Section 3AA. After being down 1-0 at the end of the first period, Hastings had a rough second period that cost them and they fell 4-1, ending their season. The Raiders finish the 2018-2019 season with an overall record of 8-16-1 including the playoffs and 3-6-1 in the Metro East Conference.
The first period was a slow start for both teams as the Raiders focused on slowing down a formidable Wildcat offense. Five minutes in Larson was called for hooking but Hastings was able to fend off Eagan to survive the first power play of the game. With eight minutes left, Eagan took a penalty of its own giving Hastings its first opportunity for a power play but they were unable to capitalize. Right after the power play, the Wildcats scored to take a 1-0 lead and that is how the first period ended. Eagan outshot Hastings 10-4 to start the game.
Heading into the game, head coach Josh Colvin said the Raiders had to achieve two things to win, slow down Eagan's prolific first line and generate enough offense to take advantage of that first part. After the first period Hastings was in great shape despite being down 1-0, but it was getting enough scoring chances that would prove to be a problem.
In the second period the Wildcats really increased the pressure on the Raider defense and despite a great performance all game by freshman goalie Lauren Dubej, Eagan was able to score three goals in a six minute span (the last of which came on a 5-on-3 after back-to-back Hastings penalties) to lead 4-0. Hastings was outshot 17-4 in the second period and were not able to counter-attack enough to put the pressure on the Wildcats.
Despite being down 4-0 to start the third period, the Raiders never showed an ounce of quit and got on the board just 19 seconds into the period on a goal from sophomore Jaida Hanson, assisted by seniors Sam Benson and Syd Radke. Now trailing 4-1, Hastings continued to press like it was a 4-4 game and not 4-1. However, Eagan was equal to the task and the game ended at 4-1. The Wildcats outshot the Raiders 41-15 for the game and went 0-for-4 on power plays, while Hastings was 0-for-1.
Hastings graduates seven seniors in the spring-Benson, Hannah Hubbart, Radke, Maddie Junker, Addie Buck, Libby Judge and MacKenzie Putnam-but also return plenty of young skaters next year and in the future as there were just two juniors on the team this season (Taylor Larson and Jailyn Munson).
Of the four players who recorded double-digit points this season for Hastings, two return next year in Larson and sophomore Kaitlin Petrich. Benson led the team with 17 total points (seven goals and 10 assists), followed by Larson with 14 (three goals and 11 assists), Hanson with 11 (five goals and six assists) and Petrich with 10 (seven goals and three assists). Sixteen different Raider skaters recorded a varsity point this season and 14 of them scored a goal. Dubej won all eight of Hastings victories with a save percentage of 87.7 percent and a goals against average of 2.72 goals per game.
Eagan goes on to face No. 4 Apple Valley on Saturday, Feb. 9, at Eagan Civic Arena. The Eagles beat Eastview 3-2. No. 7 Park of Cottage Grove beat No. 2 Burnsville in overtime 2-1 and No. 3 East Ridge beat No. 6 Rosemount 3-2. East Ridge hosts Park on Saturday as well. The Section 3AA championship game is on Wednesday, Feb. 13.