Hastings boys’ hockey beating St. Thomas Academy just doesn’t happen. Or at least it hadn’t for a long time.
Before Thursday’s meeting, St. Thomas Academy had won each of the past five meetings with its Metro East Conference rival dating back to the 2014-15 season. The Cadets dominated on the scoresheet, outscoring Hastings 36-4 with a pair of shutouts in those past five games.
The newest entry into the book between these two squads shifted from recent history, however, with a 5-1 Hastings victory Thursday night at St. Thomas Ice Arena in Mendota Heights.
“They’re always very, very tough to beat,” said Hastings coach Adam Welch. “We haven’t beaten them in 20 years or something like that, I heard. It’s ginormous for us and our program.”
Hastings took a 1-0 lead with a pretty backhanded shot from sophomore Jake Harris in the first period. Then the Raiders went up 2-1 in the final few seconds of the middle period when the two wingers on the team’s top line combined for a goal.
With a pair of empty-net goals, it all ended with the Raiders beating St. Thomas Academy 5-1 in a Metro East Conference tilt Thursday at St. Thomas Ice Arena in Mendota Heights.
Raiders junior Jax Schauer scored his sixth goal of the season, on the doorstep off of a rebound 50 seconds into a third-period power play to give the Raiders a 3-1 lead. It’s the first power-play goal in the past three games for the Raiders. They’re now 14-for-28 (50%) with the man advantage this season.
The victory gets the Raiders back on the winning track after losing two-of-their-past-three games. They came into the game sitting tied for second place in the conference standings.
Raiders junior goaltender Tyler McCarville made 24 saves. Senior Tommy Aitken stopped 25 shots for the Cadets (5-7-2, 0-1-1), who lost their third straight game.
With victory No. 10 on the board, Hastings (10-3-0, 4-1-0) is seeking to follow up last year’s solid 19-4-1 run that ultimately ended with a Section 1, Class 2A semifinal loss to Lakeville South. The Raiders haven’t been to the state tournament since going four straight years from 1998-2001.
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