Men's Hockey Hits Road For In-State Matchups

Men's Hockey Hits Road For In-State Matchups

CASTLETON, Vt. – The Castleton men's hockey team will look to return to its winning ways this weekend when it hits the road for a pair of intrastate matchups against Norwich and Saint Michael's.

The Spartans will travel to Northfield to take on the Cadets Friday night at 7 p.m., before heading to South Burlington to face the Purple Knights Saturday at 4 p.m.

Castleton (4-6-0, 1-6-0 NEHC) will have a second chance at the Cadets after falling to the defending national champions, 2-0, on its home ice last Friday night. The Spartans outshot Norwich, 29-25, in the contest and held a 15-4 shots advantage in the third period alone as a product of five power play opportunities, including two 5-on-3 advantages.

Despite the third-period dominance in possession, both Norwich goals came in the final stanza. Troy Taylor rifled a shot off the crossbar but that was as close as the Spartans could get behind a 29-save shutout from Cadet goalie Braeden Ostepchuk. Wyatt Pickrell was spectacular in the net for the Spartans, finishing with 23 stops in the loss.

Trevor Hanna and Caleb Fizer have paced the Spartan offense this season with eight points apiece. Hanna has tallied four goals and four assists, while Fizer has two goals and six assists. Matt Bloomer and Troy Taylor have combined for 13 points as a strong defensive pairing, and Ryan O'Toole has three goals and three assists. Pickrell is 1-4-0 in goal with a .908 save percentage and 3.42 goals-against average in five starts. Ryan Mulder holds an .858 save percentage and a 3.61 goals-against average in five starts.

No. 11/12 Norwich (6-3-1, 5-1-1 NEHC) has not played since defeating the Spartans and will be competing in its final game of the 2017 slate Friday night. The Cadets got goals from Carter Cowlthorp and Jordan Hall in the win over the Spartans, with the latter potting an empty-netter in the final two minutes to secure the victory. Kevin Salvucci was held without a point at Spartan Arena but leads the team in scoring with nine points on four goals and five assists. Ostepchuk is tied for first in the country with three shutouts and has played his way to a 4-3-1 record with a .934 save percentage and 1.75 goals-against average. 

The intrastate rivalry has been renewed with the introduction of the Wolk Cup in honor of outgoing Castleton University President Dave Wolk. The annual trophy will go to the team with the most head-to-head points during the regular season.

Saint Michael's (4-3-1), no longer in the NEHC, is coming off a 4-3 overtime victory over Stonehill Tuesday night to take over first place in the Northeast-10 Conference. The Purple Knights will face Southern New Hampshire Friday night before hosting Castleton on Saturday. 

Sam D'Antuono, Sam Finkelstein, and Eric Salzillo all sit atop the squad with seven points on three goals and four assists. John Barry and Nic Hermary have two goals and three assists apiece, while Jack Ouellette leads the team with five assists from the blue line. Tim Decker and Chris Johnson have split time between the pipes with four starts each. Decker leads the pairing with a 2.21 goals-against average and .919 save percentage on his way to a 2-1-1 overall record. Johnson is 2-2-0 with a 3.52 goals-against average and .875 save percentage. The Purple Knights are averaging 3.25 goals per game on offense and 3.09 goals-against per game defensively.

Castleton is 12-7-0 all-time against Saint Michael's with two straight victories. The Spartans are 7-2 against the Purple Knights since 2012, including a 3-1 mark on the road.