Women's Hockey Outlasted by St. Michael's

Women's Hockey Outlasted by St. Michael's

RUTLAND, Vt. – The Castleton University women's ice hockey team scored the opening two goals of the contest, but St. Michael's stormed back for five unanswered goals to defeat the Spartans, 5-2, in a New England Hockey Conference (NEHC) matchup on Friday afternoon at Spartan Arena.

Following the loss, Castleton drops to 4-10-2 on the season and 3-5-0 in the NEHC, while St. Michael's picks up its first win of the year to improve to 1-14-0, 1-7-0.

Felicia Bjalvegard notched the first goal of the game for Castleton midway through the first period on an assist from Sabrina Hosner. Aimee Briand doubled the Spartans lead in the second period but from there it was all St. Michaels as the Purple Knights rattled off two in the middle frame, before putting the game away with three in the final period. Alexis Kalm finished the night with 24 saves in net for Castleton, falling to 1-5-1 overall on the season.

Four Purple Knights recorded two points on the afternoon, led by a pair of goals by Erin Dwyer. Sarah Bagley notched two assists, while Kayla Kee and Jordan Monbouquette added a goal and assist each. Senior Tina Frasca was strong in net for the Purple Knights, making 36 saves on 38 shots.

Castleton controlled most of the first period, outshooting St. Michaels, 17-9. Bjalvegard broke the scoreless tie after pounding home a rebound from Hosner's shot at the point. Cycling the puck in the offensive zone, Frasca turned aside the initial shot from Hosner but Bjalvegard was right there at the near circle to give the Spartans an early lead at the 8:04 mark of the first period.

The Spartans came out strong in the first half of the middle frame, extending their lead to 2-0 when Aimee Briand took the puck on her own, skipped through a pair of Purple Knights defenders near the slot and ripped a wrist shot over Frisca's left shoulder just 2:27 into the stanza.

A penalty midway through the period allowed St. Michael's to score its first goal of the night and cut the Spartan lead in half. Looking to set up the power play deep in the Spartans zone, the Purple Knights cycled the puck well before Carolyn Avery fired a shot from the near circle that slipped past Kalm at 7:02 of the frame. On a tic-tac-toe play from the far boards to the point before finding Avery, Bagley and Kee were awarded assists on the goal. 

The Purple Knights were not done in the period, nabbing the game-tying goal with less than five minutes left. After Dwyer was robbed of a goal at the 15:19 mark, she found another opportunity just 17 seconds later, finishing a rebound in front of the net with 4:24 remaining in the period to shift momentum towards the visitors heading into the final 20 minutes.

After being outshot in the first two periods, St. Michael's evened the third-period shots total at 7-7 apiece and owned the number of chances with three goals. Kee notched what proved to the game-winning goal midway through the third on another power play. Again cycling the puck with the woman- advantage, Kee let go a slap shot from the point that went through a wholesale of players in front of the net to give the Purple Knights their first lead of the contest at the 9:37 mark.

Despite multiple efforts down the stretch, Castleton was held off the board as the Purple Knights played sound defense and picked up two more goals in the process. Dwyer notched her second of the contest as insurance with an empty-net goal after Castleton pulled its goalie late.

Jordan Monbouquette closed out the scoring less than a minute later, intercepting a pass from Kalm attempting to play the puck ahead out of her crease.

Despite just two goals, Castleton pounded 38 shots on goal compared to 29 from the Purple Knights. The Spartans also dominated the faceoff battle, 45-16. The visitors came through in crucial moments, however, capitalizing on two of its six power play opportunities. Castleton was unable to take advantage of its single power play chance. 

The Spartans will return to action on Saturday at 2 p.m. for another NEHC contest as they travel to Plymouth State for it second meeting with the Panthers this season.