Spartans Come Up Short Against No. 12/11 Norwich, 2-0

Spartans Come Up Short Against No. 12/11 Norwich, 2-0

RUTLAND, Vt. – The Castleton men's hockey team battled nationally-ranked Norwich to a back-and-forth scoreless match after two periods, but the Cadets came out on the winning end of a thrilling third period to defeat the Spartans, 2-0, Friday night in front of 1,021 fans at Spartan Arena.

Castleton falls to 4-6-0 on the season and 1-6-0 in New England Hockey Conference play with the loss. No. 12/11 Norwich improves to 6-3-1 overall and 5-1-1 in the conference with the win.

It was an action-packed first two periods but neither goaltender gave an inch. Castleton had a 2-on-1 break in the opening minutes and Ryan Ng one-timed a sizzling shot from the right circle but Cadet goaltender Braeden Ostepchuk slid across to make a pad save – one of his 29 stops on the night to pick up his third shutout of the season.

Norwich came out strong in the second period, but Spartan goaltender Wyatt Pickrell stood tall to keep the game scoreless. Kevin Salvucci came away with a grade-A opportunity deep in the Spartans' zone on the power play in the final seconds of the period, but Pickrell stacked his pads and deflected the shot to send the game to the third period still level at 0-0. 

The Cadets were sent off for seven penalties in the final frame, giving the Spartans multiple power-play chances. After killing off a crucial 5-on-3, Norwich finally struck first just under eight minutes into the period. Carter Cowlthorp took a pass from David Robertson and skated in on an odd-man rush before lifting a wrist shot from the right circle past Pickrell's blocker pad to give the Cadets the only goal they needed.

Castleton came away with several chances late in the game in search of the equalizer. Controlling possession on the power play, Troy Taylor rung a high wrist shot off the crossbar from the center of the blue line. Ryan O'Toole and Ryan Smith both fed shots on net from the doorstep as the Spartans outshot Norwich, 15-4, in the third period but could not get one past Ostepchuk. 

Pickrell raced off in favor of an extra attacker with 1:51 to play, and Jordan Hall sealed the game with an empty-net goal four seconds later to give the Cadets the 2-0 victory.

Pickrell made 23 saves but fell to 1-4-0 on the season after the loss. The Spartans outshot Norwich, 29-25, in the contest. Castleton finished 0-for-7 on the power play and held the Cadets to 0-for-4 on the man advantage.

The two teams will face eachother once again Friday, Dec. 8, at Kreitzberg Arena. Puck drop is slated for 7 p.m.