By Bruce Karnick
Losing streaks are never fun, especially when it is part of academic based athletics. Mainly because the athletes are still young adults or older kids. The kids play the game because they love it, not for the money, so the stories, even in loses, try to focus on the good. That is a tough task in a six-game losing streak.
The players on the Hastings girls hockey team are amazing kids with quite a bit of talent. The loses have happened not because they are not playing well, according to head coach Tim Duggan, they have been playing well, but they are playing a different style of hockey, one that takes time to learn, but one that will net them more wins down the road once they master the system. For now, there will be frustrations and growing pains.
Duggan is working in a more open style of offense, one that relies more on puck movement to all the players instead of relying on those one or two outstanding skaters/shooters. It puts everyone in a better position to score and keeps it a true team game.
Hastings travelled to the Burnsville invitational tournament over the holiday break where they played three games. On Monday, they played Apple Valley, falling 3-1 to the Eagles. Kylie Gruden scored the lone Raiders goal in a hardfought loss. Nicole Vander Heyden faced 28 shots, stopping 26 of them. Goal three was an empty net goal at the end of the game.
Tuesday, Hastings faced Park of Cottage Grove. Laurent Hubbart kicked of the scoring in the first period assisted by Jade Schauer and Madyn Hanson. Kiki Radant should have had a goal but the officials missed it. According to the fans and the players, the puck hit the back of the net and bounced straight out. The second period, Radant got her goal, a beautiful unassisted wrist shot that went over the right shoulder of the Park goalie at 5:56. Seven Seconds later, Jade Schauer had a repeat of Radant’s goal and Hastings was suddenly up 3-0.
Park took one back in the second to make it 3-1 but that was all the offense the Wolfpack could muster. Vander Heyden had another solid performance in the net stopping 21 of 22 shots.
Wednesday is a game the Raiders would like to forget, the lone goal for Hastings came in the first period. Schauer hit Radant on a power play and Kiki buried it. That tied the game at one with 7:12 left in the first period. Burnsville took the lead back for good 26 seconds before the first intermission.
Burnsville ended up with 59 shots on goal to Hastings 20. Vander Heyden did what she could to stop the onslaught, but 59 shots is a lot to face in one game. The final of that game 7-1 Burnsville.
Coach Duggan, like the rest of us, is waiting to see all the skills and game planning they are working on in practice, to finally gel and sync up in a game. Once it does, this team will make strides in the conference.
The girls, 5-10-0 overall and 0-3-0 in the conference, return the Hastings Civic arena to host five straight games. The first action is January 8 against Owatonna at 8:00 p.m., then January 11 at 7:30 p.m. against Two Rivers/St. Paul.