Beyond the Blueline: With Youth Contributing, Resurging Raiders Remain Competitive

Eyewitness Sports
Updated: January 24, 2018 02:14 PM

Glancing at their record that includes just five losses on the season, you may not realize that the Raiders had to replace most of their team after the departure of 14 seniors.

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"We've had some underclassman step up and play roles that you maybe wouldn't be accustomed to played as a tenth or eleventh grader, so they've done a good job of answering that," said Greenway head coach Grant Clafton.

With the arrival of a talented underclassman group, it has prevented the Greenway boys hockey program from fading.

"A lot of guys stepped up to the plate obviously and we're working hard," said junior forward Nikolai Rajala. "We're the type of team that will come after you and do everything we can to win."

It's a big gain in continuing the rise of this program. After seeing their past two season end against Hermantown, the two-time defending Class A state champions, they've remained competitive.

"When you have a young team and can compete as hard as they do and have the success early on that they're having, I really do think that helps down the road as far as getting them ready and having something to build off of," said Clafton.

The Raider saw the Hawks just last week falling once again by a final score of 4-3. It was the closest they've been to beating Hermantown since falling 2-1 in the 2015-2016 regular season.

Regardless of the outcome last week, the team knows that there is a good chance they will see the Hawks again. However, the second time around could mean a section win for the Raiders.

"We're going to see their best and we know we have to work just as hard," said junior forward Donte Lawson.

"We're both really skilled teams. We have a quite a few guys that know we can do it. We just have to play hard and beat them," added Rajala.

The team is aiming for their first state tournament appearance since 2001.



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