When Hastings coach Russ Welch walked out of the locker room after the No. 6 seed Raiders took down No. 7 seed East Ridge, 2-1 on Saturday, Feb. 25 at the State Fairgrounds Coliseum, his eyes were watered and it was not because of the victory.
Even though the victory propelled Hastings to a Section 3AA championship game against Eagan, that was not the reason for such celebration.
For the first time in his varsity career, Tyler Mellick scored, something that has not happened since he has been a regular in the lineup since his sophomore year.
"We flipped him the puck," Welch said for the reason of his emotions. "He has had chances for three years and to do it now on this stage is really something special."
Happy about the win, Mellick is not one to make a big deal about scoring his first varsity goal.
Instead of having the proverbial grin from ear to ear about such an accomplishment, Mellick's approach to it is more businesslike, as there is still more work to be done for the Raiders, who now have a berth to the state tournament on the line against top-seeded Eagan on March 1.
"I am just happy we won," Mellick said. "I don't care who scores or how we score, just as long as we win the game."
In addition to scoring the game's first goal, Mellick assisted on Nate Flynn's goal in the third, the game-winning goal for the Raiders.
Mellick took the puck, skated around the Raptors net and hit Flynn with a pass near the bottom of the left face off circle, where he was able to bury the shot.
It was the first time all season that Mellick recorded more than a point in a game and it was done so from a recent switch to playing defense, a new position for him late in the season.
The transition occurred as some depth was needed for Hastings on the blue line after some injuries left it depleted on the blue line.
After some bumps in the road, Mellick has been able to use the tools that he learned as a forward and apply them positively to his role as a defenseman.
"He has really done a nice job for us back there as we had to make some adjustments," Welch said. "There were some good teams he had to go against, but he has handled it very well."
"There were some tough times for me, but I have great coaches that are there for me every step of the way," Mellick said.
In Hastings win over Cretin-Derham Hall in the quarterfinals, Mellick recorded an assist, his first point since Feb. 2 against Woodbury.
After his two point performance against East Ridge, he now has three points in his last two games.
"I guess we just had to move him back to defense to start scoring some points," Welch said.
No. 6 seed Hastings advances to the Section 3AA championship game after defeating No. 7 seed East Ridge, 2-1 on Saturday, Feb. 25 at the State Fairgrounds Coliseum.
Tyler Mellick scored his first career varsity goal in the first period and assisted on Nate Flynn's game winning goal in the third period.
East Ridge unloaded 31 shots on goal, but Hastings goalie, Lenny Weiss turned away 30 of them for the victory.
Weiss was busy in net in the second period, where he allowed his only goal, but saw three breakaways and odd-man rushes.
He was a big difference in the Raiders advancing.
Raptors goalie Andrew McDonough made 18 saves on the night.
With the win, Hastings will take on top-seeded Eagan with a trip to state on the line in the Section 3AA finals on Thursday, March 1 at the State Fairgrounds Coliseum.
1. Tyler Mellick, Hastings
Mellick picked the perfect time to score his first career varsity goal, netting the opening goal of the game for the Raiders. He also chipped in with an assist on Nate Flynn's game-winning goal in the third period.
2. Lenny Weiss, Hastings
East Ridge came at the Raiders with 31 shots and Weiss turned away 30 of them to propel them to the section finals. In the second period alone, Weiss stopped breakaways, odd-man rushes and a bevy of other quality scoring chances for Hastings.
3. Ryan Karrow, East Ridge
Even though he did not factor on the scoresheet, Karrow made his presence known with solid play on the Raptors blue line with big hits and solid breakout passes, which gave his team plenty of chances to open the game up. He was stout at the point on power plays, quarterbacking the top unit for the Raptors.