Castleton, Vt. – In a battle between conference unbeatens, it was the Spartans who made the late plays and ultimately prevailed as they took down New England College 16-12 on Tuesday evening in North Atlantic Conference action at Spartan Stadium.
Castleton never trailed in the contest and outshot the visiting Pilgrims 52-41 to win their third straight and improve to 8-3 on the year and 5-0 in the NAC. The Spartans also controlled the face-off circle, winning 22-of-31 from NEC as the visitors dropped to 4-6 and 2-1 in conference action.
Junior Ben Roberts was dominant, going 20-for-28 on face-offs and picking up seven ground balls to get Castleton into its offense. Once in their offensive zone, the trio of Zach Davidson, Sam Bailey and Spencer Hunt proved lethal. The three combined for ten goals and seven assists, led by Davidson's three scores and five helpers. Bailey added four goals and one assist while Hunt scored a hat trick with one dime. Freshman Peter Latulippe was stout in net, making 15 saves, including six in the final 15 minutes.
For the Pilgrims, senior Brian Gillis showed why he is one of the top goal scorers in the country, depositing five goals and dishing off two assists for seven points. James Putney added a hat trick and Tim Reilly distributed four assists. Chris Galluzzo played well but took the loss in net, making 19 saves while allowing 16 goals.
Davidson opened the scoring just 1:45 into the contest on a nice feed from Alex Green. Will Stuhler made it 2-0 at 9:27, but back-to-back goals over the next five minutes by Gillis tied the game 2-2. Each team scored twice more in the quarter, including a beautiful shot by Gillis off a Reilly pass with just 26 seconds left in the period.
The second quarter was a defensive battle, and the Spartans didn't score until Hunt found the back of the net at 4:50 off a feed from Davidson. Gillis scored on a man-up opportunity at 2:48 to tie it, but Bailey gave Castleton a 6-5 halftime lead with his goal a minute later.
NEC scored three minutes into the third period to draw even once again, though Davidson found Hunt at 11:09 to put the Spartans back in front. Green made it 8-6 at 9:45, but Adam Shute closed the gap to one goal 36 seconds later. Hunt put Castleton up 9-7 with 8:19 left and that held until Gillis' goal at 5:43. Alex Brands responded off the ensuing face-off, picking up the ground ball and going straight to net to make it 10-8 just 13 seconds later. Each team scored once more in the quarter with Castleton holding an 11-9 advantage.
Consecutive goals by Phil Patterson and Davidson in the first 1:44 of the fourth pushed the Spartan lead 13-9. Shute tried to halt the run with a goal at 9:04, but back-to-back scores by Bailey off feeds from Davidson made it 15-10 with 7:22 left. Nohea King pushed the lead to 16-10 at 3:56 and the Pilgrims could only manage two goals over the last 3:30 for the 16-12 final.
The Spartans now take to the road this weekend when they face Husson on Saturday at 3 pm.