HASTINGS — It was the season opener for the Stillwater boys’ hockey team, but with two games already under its belt Hastings was the sharper team in Saturday’s 2-1 Suburban East Conference victory at the Hastings Civic Arena.
The Raiders (1-0 SEC, 2-1) scored two power play goals on three opportunities while Stillwater was unable to convert on any of its three power plays. Jake Cass scored for the Ponies (0-1, 0-1) with just seven seconds remaining to avoid the shutout, but it was not enough to salvage an indifferent performance.
“It was our first game and I think because it was their third game that had a lot to do with the outcome,” Stillwater coach Phil Housley said. “They had a lot more rhythm and they were in sync with their team concepts. We were very excited, very intense, but I think our focus was in the wrong area.”
Matt Koch scored on the power play three minutes into the game and the Raiders maintained that 1-0 lead until Matt Flynn scored another power play for a two-goal cushion with less than seven minutes remaining in the game.
“We did take a late penalty when it was 1-0 and that set us back because we were right down there with six or seven minutes left,” Housley said. “I really like the intensity we brought to the game, but we have to be on control of our emotions better. It was a special teams battle and we didn’t get anything and gave up two on the penalty kill.”
The Raiders held a slim 26-23 advantage in shots on goal, with Colton Anderson making 24 stops in goal for the Ponies.
“I think he played well, but everyone, including our goaltender, can play better,” Housley said. “Everybody has to play better. We have a lot of depth and experience, but we’ve got to fight and get hungrier to score goals. I don’t think they’re going to come easy, but if we play a certain way they will but until we do that it will be a scrap and claw team. We have to get more pucks to the net, that’s how you create havoc for the other defensemen.”
It will not get easier this week as the Ponies travel to Forest Lake for a conference game on Thursday. The Rangers have won their first two games this season, including a 2-0 victory over highly regarded Grand Rapids on Friday.
“We know it’s going to be tough,” Housley said. “It’s going to be tight and very competitive in the conference this year.”
Stillwater 0 0 1 — 1
Hastings 1 0 1 — 2
First period — 1. Has, Matt Koch (Andrew Bussey) pp, 3:00.
Second period — No scoring.
Third period — 2. Has, Matt Flynn (Mark Huneke, Bussey) pp, 10:35; 1. St, Jake Cass (unassisted) 16:53.
Penalties — St, 4-8:00; Has, 4-8:00.
Saves — St (Colton Anderson) 8-7-9—24; Has (Matt Radke) 9-5-8—22.