Girls' Hockey: Raiders combine experience, leadership, familiarity
Raiders girls' hockey entered its third season under head coach Josh Colvin a few weeks ago and started 2-2 with wins over Northfield and Chisago Lakes and losses to Rosemount and East Ridge. When talking with Colvin, he emphasized two major aspects about this year's team: their experience and their growing familiarity with him, as well as his settling into his role as head coach.
"The one thing about this year is we have a lot of returners We have a very, very big senior class of seven kids who have played together the whole way up So we have great set of chemistry," he said. "This is my third year, so some of those cultural things of putting my stamp on it and the girls now know what to expect out of me as a head coach versus an assistant coach. Everyone, including myself, is just more comfortable and relaxed as far as what that dynamic looks like."
The Hastings coaching staff has also undergone some changes, both in personnel as well as method.
"We've got a goalie coach back in with us in Brooke Weber, who played with us for years, so that allows me to focus a little bit more on the forwards, especially with Coach (Audra) Richards who is out playing professional hockey out east for the year," Colvin said. "So the varsity staff shuffled a little bit."
"As far as preparation, one of the biggest things I've started to realize is to get out of the way more," he said. "We just try and put them in high-tempo, high-competitive game situations in practice and let them learn by doing. We're going to be a lot more aggressive this year."
Another coaching change at the end of the season will be the loss of assistant coach Steve Benson, who is ending a 23-year coaching career with Hastings girls' hockey.
One major change from last season to this season is the loss of goalie Alayna Kunshier due to a family move. She has been replaced by last year's backup and junior varsity goalie, freshman Lauren Dubej. Their backup goalie this year is now eighth-grader Taylor Cozy.
So far this year, Colvin noted that the Raiders' power play is much better, though with still plenty of work to do.
"One thing that just killed us was we were terrible on the power play last year, I think we gave up like six or seven short-handed goals and we only scored nine power-play goals," he said. "This year we still haven't scored on the power play, but we're getting great movement and opportunity and we haven't given up any short-handers. But you talk about addressing it, and this is true of every team I would bet, you gotta get to the dirty spots, you got to get to the front of the net and battle. We're not scoring on the power play because we're not getting that second and third shot. So that's something we're going to have to continually try and instill."
There have been some minor changes to Hastings' schedule this year as they will not play Hill-Murray twice, but rather replaced one of those games with the one against Northfield. Other non-conference games left to play are home against Apple Valley, at Dodge County, home against Rochester John Marshall and Burnsville, on the road against Lakeville North and Irondale, and then ending the year at Park, Eastview and Woodbury.
Finally, Colvin praised this year's senior class for how close they have been over the many years they've played together.
"Every senior group is different," he said. "This group, we've got seven seniors who are playing varsity, we've got two of them who played all the way up and are managers. Off the ice they are close, I think that's one of the biggest things. They've been close all the way up. Everyone feels like they've got a place, everyone feels like they belong."
Those seniors are Sam Benson, Hannah Hubbart, Syd Radke, Maddie Junker, Addie Buck, Libby Judge and MacKenzie Putnam. Also returning for the Raiders this season are junior Taylor Larson, sophomore Jaida Hanson, sophomore Aryana Klaren, sophomore Kaitlin Petrich, Dubej, junior Jailyn Munson and sophomore Lexi Ramsbacher.